By Stacy M. Brown (NNPA Newswire Contributor)
NORRISTOWN, Pa.,—Judge Steven O’Neill allowed one witness for the prosecution to call Bill Cosby a “serial rapist” in open court, while another mocked the 80 year-old, blind comedian.
“You remember, Mr. Cosby?” Chelan Lasha yelled. “What you did to me?”
Lasha claimed the man, who earned the nickname “America’s Dad” as Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, drugged and raped her more than 30 years ago. Heidi Thomas said that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her 34 years ago.
O’Neill, who sits much closer to the witnesses than the lawyers, never moved to quiet either witness, after they lashed out at Cosby, outside of the scope of questioning by the district attorney.
After each inflammatory statement, Cosby’s attorney Kathleen Bliss objected, but, incredulously, O’Neill pleaded ignorance. Bliss also asked for a mistrial, after each outburst; O’Neill denied both requests.
Thomas and Lasha are two of the expected five witnesses, who the judge gave prosecutors to call in the case. Last year, O’Neill ruled that just one such witness could testify.
The case has been wrought with rulings that some courtroom observers find questionable, tipping the scales of justice in the prosecutor’s favor.
O’Neill refused to allow key testimony from former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor, who rejected calls to prosecute Cosby, because Castor said the case lacked evidence and that alleged victim Andrea Constand lacked credibility.
The judge also barred a request made by Cosby’s defense team to use a 2005 press release that Castor issued explaining why he didn’t bring charges against Cosby. Current district attorney Kevin Steele moved to charge Cosby, just two days before the statute of limitations were set to expire in 2015.
Cosby faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault that stem from an incident with Constand at his Philadelphia-area home more than 14 years ago.
He could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
Famed attorney and CNN analyst Joey Jackson said that the case has the appearance of being unfair.
“[Lasha and Thomas] should not have been allowed to testify,” Jackson told the NNPA Newswire. “It’s highly-prejudicial.”