September 20, 2018 / 8:57 PM / a month ago

Judge bars parade of Cosby accusers at sentencing hearing

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania judge on Thursday denied a request by prosecutors to allow additional women who have accused comedian Bill Cosby of sexual misconduct to tell their stories at his sentencing hearing on a sexual assault conviction.

FILE PHOTO: Actor and comedian Bill Cosby arrives for deliberations at his sexual assault retrial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 26, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Cosby, 81, is due in Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas on Monday to be sentenced by Judge Steven O’Neill in the drugging and sexual assault of his one-time friend Andrea Constand, a former Temple University administrator, in 2004.

A jury in Norristown, a suburb north of Cosby’s hometown of Philadelphia, found him guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault in April.

More than 60 other women have accused Cosby of sexual assaults dating back decades. Prosecutors asked this month to bring in an unspecified number of them to testify at the hearing, despite most of their accusations being too old to allow for criminal charges. Constand’s accusation was the only one to result in prosecution.

FILE PHOTO: Bill Cosby accuser Andrea Constand embraces Special Prosecutor Kristen Gibbons Feden as Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele looks on during a news conference after a jury convicted actor and comedian Bill Cosby for sexual assault during a retrial in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 26, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Five other accusers, in addition to Constand, were allowed to testify at his second trial. The first trial, at which only one other accuser testified, resulted in a hung jury.

Cosby’s lawyers opposed the request for additional accusers to testify at the sentencing hearing. Judge O’Neill agreed, writing in his order that in an “exhaustive review” of state case law he found nothing allowing him to consider “uncharged conduct” at the sentencing.

The order leaves open the possibility that prosecutors could call some of the five women the judge had previously allowed to testify at the April trial about their accusations. The judge asked Kevin Steele, the county’s district attorney, to clarify his plans on this issue by Friday.

Cosby, who became known as “America’s dad” as the star of his “The Cosby Show” sitcom, faces a maximum sentence up to 10 years in prison for each of the three counts, though sentencing guidelines may lead the judge to a lesser sentence.

If sent to prison, he will be one of only a few state inmates who are older than 80 or legally blind.

Crosby became the first celebrity convicted of a sex crime since the emergence of the #MeToo movement last year, in which scores of powerful men in entertainment and politics have been brought down by accusations of sexual misconduct.

Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen; Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Dan Grebler

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