Judge Steven T. O’Neill denied the prosecutor’s request to allow new, unheard witnesses to testify at Bill Cosby’s sentencing hearing next week, but noted he may allow the five women who testified at trial that they were sexually victimized by the convicted comic to return, Radar has learned.
Judge O’Neill ruled Thursday morning that the chief witness, Andrea Constand along with the “prior bad act witnesses” Janice Dickinson, Heidi Thomas, Chelan Lasha, Janice Baker-Kinney and Lise-Lotte Lublin may be permitted to return next week to provide their victim impact statements – but axed the prosecutor’s request to bring in additional women who did not testify at trial, according to documents obtained by Radar.
However, Judge O’Neill ordered prosecutors to notify him if they intend to bring the five “prior bad act” witnesses back, urging the prosecution to incorporate the trial testimony rather than have them speak, in order to save time.
Judge O’Neill could still block prosecutors from bringing in the “prior bad act” witnesses, according to prominent Philadelphia-based criminal defense attorney A. Charles Peruto, Jr.
Peruto told Radar had Judge O’Neill permitted the additional accusers, it would result in “a trial within a trial” as the Cos’ defense team would be permitted to cross examine each one.
Nevertheless, Constand will be permitted to provide a victim impact statement as she was the sole victim in the Pennsylvania trial.
The decision comes just two days after Judge O’Neill denied the Cos’ demands for him to step aside after an exclusive Radar revelation published days before the convicted comic’s retrial – where well-placed sources claimed Judge O’Neill had a blowout fight with a key witness arising from allegations of a close relationship he had with that witness’ employee.
Cosby’s defense team will be permitted to present their own character witnesses to attest to his moral conduct and reputation, among other things.
As Radar previously reported, Cosby was found guilty on all counts of aggravated indecent assault on April 26. He faces up to 30 years in prison for his crimes when he returns to court for sentencing Sept. 24 & 25 and the convicted comic hired a team of private security to ensure he makes it to and from court safe and sound.
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