Judge Steven O'Neill, who has presided over the Bill Cosby sexual assault case for over two years, will not step down from the case.
Cosby's Recusal Request Denied
Last week, Cosby's lawyers had filed a recusal motion stating that judge O'Neill should be replaced as the presiding judge. The defense team argued that O'Neill was biased because his wife is a social worker and an advocate for assault victims.
However, O'Neill denied the defense team's request during a pretrial hearing on Thursday, March 29. The judge said that he is "not biased or prejudiced" by his wife's involvement with an organization for sexual assault victims and that the defense's claim that he and his wife share the same views or that his wife's profession has influences his rulings "is faulty, plain and simple."
"How are my wife's independent views — of an independent woman — connected to me?" O'Neill said. "She's an independent woman and has the right to be involved in anything that she believes in."
The judge also pointed out that Cosby's previous counsel had also considered filing a motion for his recusal in December 2016 but did not follow through.
Defense Dealt With Another Blow
The recusal motion was one of many last-ditch efforts made by Cosby's team to delay the trial. The Cosby Show alum has been accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee at his Philadelphia residence in 2004. O' Neill also presided over the first trial but failed to reach a verdict due to a hung jury.
Cosby's defense, led by high-profile attorney Tom Mesereau, has suffered a series of setbacks this month. Not only will five accusers be allowed to testify against the comedian when the trial starts next week, but former model Janice Dickinson, who has accused Cosby of raping her in a Lake Tahoe hotel room in 1982, will be among the prosecution's witnesses.
Jury To Be Sequestered
O'Neill also announced on Thursday that the jury for Cosby's retrial on sexual assault charges will be chosen from suburban Philadelphia and will be sequestered in a local hotel.
The jury for the first trial was picked from Pittsburgh, located 300 miles away, and was sequestered in Norristown.
The pretrial hearing is expected to continue on Friday, March 30, before jury selection begins on Monday, April 2. The date for the retrial was set for April 9 after both parties agreed to the same.