NORRISTOWN, Pa. -- Bill Cosby wants to move his trial out of a suburban Philadelphia courthouse, arguing there’s been widespread negative press coverage of the sexual assault case.
Lawyers for the 79-year-old comedian filed a motion Friday that asked the judge to either move it out of Montgomery County or bring in a jury from elsewhere.
His lawyers say Cosby has been the target of an “inflammatory and prejudicial smear campaign” and branded as a monster, a sociopath and a sexual predator in news accounts.
A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office says prosecutors aren’t opposed to the request.
Friday marks one year since Cosby was charged with aggravated sexual assault just days before the 12-year statute of limitations would have run out over a 2004 encounter at his estate near Philadelphia, during which he is accused of drugging and molesting a woman he knew through Temple University.
A year later, it’s increasingly unlikely that he can avoid a felony trial slated for June. The judge has denied nearly each defense motion as the two sides fight over Cosby’s deposition, other accusers and the decade-long delay in filing charges.
“It doesn’t sound like the prosecutors are inclined to give him a deal that will matter,” said Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson, who is not involved in the case. “It’s an elderly man, and any (jail sentence) is probably, in his mind, worth fighting.”
A recent tabloid news report suggested a plea could be in the works, but Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele’s spokeswoman calls the report unfounded. Still, some celebrity lawyers don’t rule it out.
“Ultimately, I think they work something out. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s the deal he wants,” said Los Angeles lawyer Mark Geragos, who represented Michael Jackson on child molestation charges. “If they can work out a felony with minimal time, I think he’d be wise to take it, given his age and infirmities.”
Cosby, 79 and legally blind, had appeared shaken last year as he maneuvered past the cameras that mobbed him outside the small court office where he posted $1 million bail after his arrest. But he now appears more comfortable in court after a half-dozen or so hearings.
The trial is set to start by June.