Bill Cosby lost his appeal to overturn his sexual assault conviction on Monday after arguing that the judge improperly allowed accusers who weren’t part of the criminal case to testify.
A three-judge panel of Pennsylvania Superior Court jurists rejected the imprisoned comedian's appeal, saying the testimony was permitted because it showed a pattern of behavior.
Cosby can appeal Tuesday's decision to the Pennsylvania State’s Supreme Court, but that court is not obligated to hear the appeal. If that were the case, Cosby would remain in prison for the remainder of his three to 10 year term.
In April 2018, Cosby was convicted of three counts of indecent assault and battery for drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University basketball coach Andrea Constand in 2004. He was sentenced last fall.
At the heart of Cosby's appeal was the contention that the trial judge’s decision to allow five women to testify to additional, uncharged crimes was prejudicial to his defense.
The prosecution strategy to introduce additional alleged victims has tested a still-evolving area of law in a new era of heightened scrutiny of suspected serial sex predators and a nationwide re-evaluation of statute of limitations governing sex crimes prosecutions.
Since being used twice against Cosby by prosecutors in Montgomery County, the strategy of petitioning a court to introduce additional witnesses with similar, uncharged sexual assault allegations has cropped up in other high-profile cases.
Earlier this year, a New York State Supreme Court judge ruled that three additional accusers can testify to uncharged, alleged crimes in a sexual assault trial against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, which is set to begin in January.
State laws prohibit the introduction of uncharged criminal accusations into most court trials, but there’s an exception if the prosecution can convince a judge that there’s an underlying pattern of "prior bad acts," and in Cosby's case, there were multiple sexual assault allegations against him.
During Cosby’s first trial in 2017 -- which led to a hung jury and mistrial -- the prosecutors sought 13 "prior bad acts" witnesses and were allowed to present one.
In the second trial, the same Pennsylvania trial judge, Steven P. O’Neill, allowed five of 19 women sought by prosecutors to take the stand. Their testimony in sum was devastating, though jurors from the second trial issued a statement crediting Constand’s testimony on the witness stand as the primary factor in their unanimous guilty verdict.
"Simply put, we were asked to assess the credibility of Ms. Constand's account of what happened to her, and each one of us found her account credible and compelling," the jurors said in a statement at the time.