Shirts, flowers showing support banned at Bill Cosby retrial

Bessie Dean
March 25, 2018

The judge on Monday refused the latest in a number of requests from the defense to delay the start of the trial.

Deborah O'Neill is a psychotherapist at the University of Pennsylvania, where she coordinates a team designated to provide care, advocacy and support for students who've been victims of sex assault.

"The irony to me is that Judge O'Neill has a reputation as being a total straight shooter", McAndrews added.

Bill Cosby's lawyers on Thursday asked the judge in his upcoming sexual assault retrial to recuse himself on the grounds that the judge could be seen as biased because his wife is a therapist who has described herself as an "activist and advocate for assault victims". The defense is trying to get the judge also to ban court spectators in the public gallery from wearing badges or displaying slogans or carrying accessories that appear to be in support of Cosby's accusers.

After the first trial, Cosby's wife Camille took a shot at O'Neill, calling him "heinously and exploitively ambitious".

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Stephen Gillers, a professor at New York University School of Law and an expert on legal ethics, said that standard prevailed in the judicial system. Steele responded by asking whether the out-of-state attorneys should be allowed to practice in Pennsylvania for the case. But in that case, a judge's spouse worked as a deputy district attorney.

The decision applies in courtrooms and anywhere jurors, who are being selected on April 2, may notice items of bias. But, per Page Six, it will be nowhere to be found in the Cosby trial.

Cosby's lawyers say that because O'Neill's wife, Deborah V. O'Neill, a social worker at the University of Pennsylvania, leads the Sexual Trauma Treatment Outreach and Prevention program at the university and has donated money to a group that plans to rally outside the courthouse, the judge has a conflict of interest.

"Because of Dr. O'Neill's marriage to Judge O'Neill", they wrote, "and the close partnership the two presumably share, it is submitted that "a significant minority of the lay community could reasonably question the court's impartiality" and therefore recusal is required".

Accusers and others coming to support Andrea Constand - a former Temple University employee who alleges Cosby drugged and molested her in his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004 - arrived nearly daily a year ago carrying bouquets of pink gladiolus flowers, which were left in prominent locations around the Norristown, Pa., courthouse.

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