Bill Cosby filed a formal appeal to his sexual assault conviction on Tuesday, arguing that he had been improperly convicted last year when the judge presiding at his trial allowed into evidence the testimony of five women who, like the victim, said Mr. Cosby had drugged and sexually assaulted them.
“This evidence was used to strip Cosby of his presumption of innocence and to try to establish that Cosby had the propensity to sexually assault women,” his lawyers wrote in the appeal filed in Pennsylvania Superior Court. “This evidence never should have been admitted at trial.”
The lengthy appeal included several other complaints about the actions of the judge, Steven T. O’Neill, that the defense team had already indicated would be grounds for a challenge. Mr. Cosby, 81, was found guilty in 2018 in Montgomery County Court of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home outside Philadelphia in 2004. He is now serving a three- to 10-year sentence in a Pennsylvania prison.
In the filing, Mr. Cosby’s lawyers, Kristen L. Weisenberger, Brian W. Perry and Sarah Kelly-Kilgore said the judge had wrongly ignored the testimony of a former district attorney who said he had promised never to prosecute Mr. Cosby. The team also questioned the judge’s decision to allow into evidence a deposition Mr. Cosby made in a lawsuit brought by Ms. Constand acknowledging he had obtained quaaludes to be used to incapacitate women so he could have sex with them, a statement that prosecutors portrayed as evidence of his willingness to do the same to Ms. Constand.
Legal experts have said that the strongest argument in Mr. Cosby’s defense is his challenge to Judge O’Neill’s decision to allow the five additional accusers to testify.
In the appeal, his lawyers said he was denied a fair trial because the allegations made by the five other women were remote in time and did not share close similarities to the Constand case.
In an opinion published in May, Judge O’Neill asserted that the testimony of those women was particularly relevant because of the “chilling similarities” in their accounts, which he said depicted a “signature” method of assaulting women.
Now that the full appeals brief has been filed, prosecutors have 30 days to respond to the Superior Court. Kate Delano, a spokeswoman for the Montgomery County district attorney’s office, declined to comment beyond confirming that prosecutors would file their response.