PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bill Cosby returned to a suburban Philadelphia courtroom with a streamlined defense team Tuesday for a hearing in his sexual assault case.
He arrived in a light blue seersucker jacket and held onto an aide's arm as supporters cheered for him from the sidewalks as he entered the Montgomery County Courthouse.
Cosby dropped his media handler, Washington lawyer Monique Pressley, ahead of the hearing, where a judge could set a trial date.
The defense also will push on Tuesday to keep key evidence out of the case. They hope to suppress several days of testimony Cosby gave in the accuser's lawsuit a decade ago. Cosby acknowledged giving Andrea Constand several pills before what he calls a consensual sexual encounter. She later said she was in and out of consciousness.
"I don't hear her say anything. And I don't feel her say anything. And so I continue and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped," Cosby testified in the 2005 lawsuit.
Veteran Philadelphia defense lawyer Brian McMonagle is expected to lead the courtroom fight as the case moves forward.
Cosby also replaced one top-tier Los Angeles law firm with another on his defense team, the second such switch in about a year. Angela Agrusa of Liner LLP also will handle the defamation lawsuits filed in several states by women who say they were defamed when Cosby or his agents denied their accounts.
Cosby had countersued some of them.
But he has since abandoned that strategy in Philadelphia, where he dropped the lawsuit filed against Constand, her lawyers and her mother. Cosby had accused them of violating the confidentiality of their 2006 settlement, in part by cooperating with police last year.
The defense also hopes to suppress a secretly recorded 2005 phone call Cosby had with Gianna Constand, when he described his sexual encounter with her daughter.
District Attorney Kevin Steele will fight to use both the phone call and his deposition at trial.
Cosby has so far lost his efforts to have the charges thrown out.
And so the once-beloved comedian known as "America's Dad" for his top-rated show on family life that ran from 1984 to 1992 finds himself spending his time and fortune in his waning days in a Pennsylvania courtroom. The women who accuse him of similar misconduct say the charges were a long time coming.
Cosby's defenders instead suggest he is a wealthy target for the many women he met during five decades as an A-list celebrity.
"None of us will ever want to be in the position of attacking a victim. But the question should be asked — who is the victim?" his wife, Camille, asked as more accusers came forward in 2014.