Cosby lawyers say comedian is too blind to defend himself

Bill Cosby's eyesight has deteriorated to the point where he cannot identify his accusers, his lawyers said

bill cosby sexual assault charge pennsylvania
Comedian Bill Cosby stumbles as he arrives for a court appearance in Elkins Park, Pa., Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015. Cosby was arrested and charged with drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at his home in January 2004. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Bill Cosby’s eyesight has deteriorated to the point where he cannot identify his accusers in photographs or otherwise help with his defense, his lawyers said Wednesday as they waged a multipronged effort to get the sexual assault case against the 79-year-old comedian thrown out.

His attorneys also portrayed Cosby as a political pawn who is being prosecuted only because a suburban Philadelphia district attorney used the public furor over the comic to get elected last year.

And they renewed their argument that Cosby’s lurid 2005 deposition from a related lawsuit should not admitted at his trial, saying he answered questions under oath only after being assured he would not be charged with a crime.

Cosby leaned back in his chair as his lawyers made their case to a judge at the pretrial hearing.

The “Cosby Show” star once known as America’s Dad is scheduled to go on trial in June on charges he drugged and molested Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee, at his home in 2004. He could get 10 years in prison.

Cosby has said the encounter was consensual. He is free on $1 million bail.

Dozens of additional accusers have come forward, including 13 women whom prosecutors want to call as witnesses at the trial to show that they were drugged and violated in similar fashion. Cosby’s lawyers are fighting that strategy.

Defense attorney Angela Agrusa argued that prosecutors unfairly prejudiced Cosby by waiting a decade to pursue Constand’s complaint. Agrusa said the comic has vision and memory problems.

“In the materials they turned over, the photographs, Mr. Cosby cannot look at a photograph or any evidence and help his counsel or explain who those people are,” she said.

Prosecutors have said they are not yet sure of the extent of Cosby’s vision problems. But the defense calls him legally blind.

Prosecutors reopened Cosby’s case last year after portions of his deposition from a lawsuit brought by Constand a decade ago were made public. In them, Cosby acknowledged a series of extramarital affairs and said he had obtained quaaludes in the 1970s to give to women he wanted to have sex with.

Cosby’s lawyers said he underwent questioning only after then-District Attorney Bruce Castor promised he would never face arrest in the Constand case.

Cosby’s attorneys are using that supposed promise to try to get the case thrown out or, failing that, to keep the deposition from being used at his trial.

They are also focusing on the campaign battle between Castor and the current district attorney, Kevin Steele, in last year’s election in Montgomery County. Steele ran press releases and TV commercials attacking Castor for not prosecuting Cosby.

Steele made Cosby a “pawn in that election,” Agrusa argued.

“His cause celebre became attacking Mr. Cosby, stating publicly that his opponent had not been aggressive enough, had not done his job,” she said. “And now he’s in a situation where he’s got to act on it.”

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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