NORRISTOWN — Judge Steven T. O’Neill intends to listen to arguments about whether testimony from 13 Bill Cosby accusers can be used in his sexaul assault trial involving former Temple employee Andrea Constand. And that may happen, eventually.
But before any argument could begin, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele and Cosby lawyer Brian McMonagle engaged in a dispute over the usage in evidence of names of the alleged victims that lasted for nearly an hour, and at times they were shouting at each other.
The hearing began with Steele saying he had an objection that surprised Cosby’s defense team and O’Neill: He objected to the defense entering two binders of evidence, the entire binders.
Steele explained some of the information in the binders contained info that should’ve been redacted and it was the defense’s attempt to “put the names, the addresses, the personal information” of the accusers and “intimidate people.”
After being puzzled at what Steele was doing, O’Neill eventually denied the objection, saying the entire purpose of the scheduled two-day hearing is for him to go over evidence put forth by the prosecution and the defense and decide whether accuser testimony can be used at the forthcoming trial. Any objection to particular pieces of information could be tackled as they went through the evidence. But that wasn’t the end of it.
Steele kept saying he objected to the binders. When O’Neill questioned what the defense would even be doing if the entirety of their evidence was blocked, period, Steele responded, “They can argue what we’re arguing.”
McMonagle literally laughed out loud at this point. A bit later, he put his hands on top of his head as if to surrender. Then it got even more contentious, as McMonagle questioned why the names of 11 of 13 accusers couldn’t be used in evidence given they’d made themselves public in the media. He agreed to keep redacted the names of two accusers who had not gone public.
“Most of them have been interviewed on television,” McMonagle said. “Who’s hiding names? Some of them have been interviewed for books. Some of them have been on tours. I really don’t care what their names are. Is the world not going to know their names? What are we doing here? This is silly. It really is silly.”
O’Neill had to remind both men to keep their voices down. He decided the two accusers who have not been previously revealed should not be named out of courtesy.
The prosecution then began going over what evidence it planned to use for each accuser, and O’Neill called a break about 11 a.m.
Cosby entered the courtroom a few minutes before the hearing began. He held a cane with his left hand, and a bodyguard held his right arm. One of his attorneys pulled a chair away from the bench for him and guided him into it, Cosby seemingly unable to sit under his own power.
Throughout most of the hearing so far, Cosby has leaned back in his seat, a hand rested under his chin. At other times, he has turned away from the lawyers and judge and scanned the crowd watching in the courtroom.
The AP reported Cosby made a joke to security as he entered the courthouse, saying “don’t tase me bro” when they attempted to wand him.