Cosby Lawyers Argue Judge's Wife's Advocacy For Sexual Assault Victims Disqualifies Him

Activist Dr Deborah O'Neill is a psychotherapist at the University of Pennsylvania and coordinates a team providing care support and advocacy for student sexual assault victims

Activist Dr Deborah O'Neill is a psychotherapist at the University of Pennsylvania and coordinates a team providing care support and advocacy for student sexual assault victims

The defense anxious that O'Neill might make bias decisions during Cosby's retrial.

Thursday's filing was not the first time Cosby's backers have publicly questioned O'Neill's impartiality or the influence his wife's work may have over his views of the case, though his lawyers had never before raised the issue in court.

On Monday, the judge refused the defense's request to delay the trial.

Disgraced entertainer Bill Cosby has launched a bid to have the judge overseeing his sexual assault re-trial recused, because his wife directs a support group helping victims of sexual assault.

Cosby's wife, Camille, blasted O'Neill after the first trial as 'overtly arrogant and collaborating with the district attorney, ' but his lawyers back then never objected to him presiding over the case.

They pointed to the work of O'Neill's wife, Deborah O'Neill, a psychotherapist who coordinates a sexual-trauma outreach program at the University of Pennsylvania, and highlighted a financial contribution she made previous year to a group planning a rally next month in support of Andrea Constand and Cosby's other accusers.

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Whether their latest bid will succeed remains uncertain, said Robert H. Davis, a Widener University law professor who specializes in legal ethics.

The judge, who did not yet rule on this most recent motion, is married to Deborah O'Neill, a clinical social worker with a doctorate in social work at the University of Pennsylvania. During last year's trial, which ended in a hung jury in June, several of Cosby's accusers attended the proceedings wearing pins "We stand in truth".

O'Neill was the judge on the original case against Cosby, for which he was tried for three accounts of indecent aggravated assault.

The decision applies in courtrooms and anywhere jurors, who are being selected on April 2, may notice items of bias.

Cosby's defense team also pointed out a dissertation Deborah O'Neill wrote in 2012 on acquaintance rape and her monetary support of a campus group called V-Day UPenn that has contributed money to Women Organized Against Rape. Initially, only one was allowed to take the stand against the comedian.

Cosby has pleaded not guilty to charges he drugged and molested former Temple University athletics administrator Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. Steele responded by asking whether the out-of-state attorneys should be allowed to practice in Pennsylvania for the case.

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