National Briefs

Cosby charges remain as lawyers fight to limit testimony

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Bill Cosby made his first court appearance of the #MeToo era on Monday as defense lawyers tried without success to get his sexual assault case thrown out, then turned their attention to blocking some of the 80-year-old comedian’s dozens of accusers from testifying at his looming retrial.

Cosby’s retooled defense team, led by former Michael Jackson lawyer Tom Mesereau, argued that telephone records, travel itineraries and other evidence show the alleged assault couldn’t have happened when his accuser says it did and thus falls outside the statute of limitations.

Judge Steven O’Neill said he’d leave that for the jury to decide, rejecting a defense motion to dismiss the charges.

Cosby, who entered the courtroom on the arm of his spokesman, is charged with drugging and molesting a Temple University women’s basketball executive at his suburban Philadelphia home. Cosby said the encounter was consensual. A jury deadlocked on the case last year, setting the stage for a retrial.

Prosecutors sought Monday to persuade the judge to allow as many as 19 other accusers to take the stand, including model Janice Dickinson, in an attempt to show a sinister flip side to Cosby’s public persona as “America’s Dad,” cultivated through his role as an affable Jell-O pitchman and the star of the top-rated 1980s family sitcom “The Cosby Show.”

Prosecutors said the women’s testimony is vital to refuting the defense team’s “inevitable attacks” on the credibility of accuser Andrea Constand.

The accusers will provide evidence that Cosby “systematically engaged in a signature pattern of providing an intoxicant to his young female victim and then sexually assaulting her when she became incapacitated,” said Assistant District Attorney Adrienne D. Jappe.

Cosby’s lawyers have argued that some of the other accusers’ allegations date to the 1960s and present the defense with a nearly impossible burden. They say they will seek to delay the retrial if any of the women are permitted to testify so they can have more time to investigate their claims.

O’Neill said he would not rule on whether to allow the testimony by the end of the two-day hearing, calling it an “extraordinarily weighty issue” that he needs time to review.

The judge allowed just one other accuser to take the stand at Cosby’s first trial, barring any mention of about 60 others who have come forward to accuse Cosby in recent years.

The only other hint that jurors got of Cosby’s past came from deposition excerpts from 2005 and 2006 in which the star admitted giving quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with.

Jury selection in the retrial is slated to begin March 29.

Earlier Monday, the defense disputed Constand’s testimony at last year’s trial that he drugged and molested her at his suburban Philadelphia home in January 2004. Constand didn’t give a specific date, but said the incident had to have happened prior to Jan. 20, when her cousin moved into her Philadelphia apartment.

Judge orders ‘Pharma Bro’ to forfeit $7.3M in fraud case

NEW YORK (AP) — “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli will have to forfeit more than $7.3 million in assets that include his one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album as part of his punishment in his securities fraud case, a judge ruled Monday.

U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto issued the order against the jailed Shkreli four days before he is to face sentencing for his conviction last year on charges he cheated wealthy investors in two failed hedge funds he was managing.

Along with the Wu-Tang Clan “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” album that Shkreli has boasted he bought for $2 million, he would have to give up $5 million in cash in a brokerage account. He also would be forced to forfeit other valuables including a Picasso painting and another unreleased recording that he claims he owns, “Tha Carter V” by Lil Wayne.

The judge said the assets won’t be seized until Shkreli has a chance to appeal. His lawyer didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The defense had argued that Shkreli shouldn’t have to forfeit anything because the hedge fund investors actually ended up making a profit from drug company stock he gave them.

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