Judge will allow five Bill Cosby accusers to testify at sex assault retrial

Bill Cosby exits the Montgomery County Courthouse after a mistrial was declared in Norristown, Pa., Saturday, June 17, 2017.

Matt Rourke / AP

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. -- A judge has agreed to let five additional accusers of Bill Cosby testify at his sexual assault retrial, scheduled to begin next month. 

Judge Steven O'Neill's ruling Thursday is a victory for prosecutors looking to portray the 80-year-old Cosby as one of Hollywood's biggest serial predators. 

Prosecutors contend the alleged 2004 assault that led to Cosby's only criminal charges was the latest in a five-decade pattern of him drugging and attacking dozens of women. They wanted to call as many as 19 women to the stand.

Cosby's lawyers fought the move in court earlier this month. They argued prosecutors were looking to bolster a weak case with "ancient allegations" that would confuse and distract jurors in the #MeToo era.

O'Neill limited prosecutors at Cosby's first trial last year to calling just the 2004 accuser and a woman who alleged a 1990s assault. That trial ended in a hung jury.

The retrial is currently scheduled to begin April 2, but Cosby's lawyers have said they would seek to delay proceedings if the judge allowed other accusers the chance to testify. They said they would need extra time to look into the allegations.