Bill Cosby
**FILE** Hearings began for Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial on March 5.

Bill Cosby is taking a no-holds barred approach in his sexual assault case in Pennsylvania.

The embattled comedian has asked Judge Steven O’Neill permission to unseal his decades-old civil settlement and payout to accuser Andrea Constand.

While O’Neill ruled against Cosby’s request to dismiss the case, the judge is expected to decide other matters later this month after two days of hearings wrapped up this week in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

During hearings Monday and Tuesday, lawyers for both sides went after each other, with prosecutors asking the judge to remove Cosby’s defense attorneys because of what they called malicious prosecution.

Cosby’s attorneys said prosecutors failed to tell the court that Constand lied when she said she didn’t know potential defense witness Margo Jackson, who worked at Temple with the accuser and alleges that Constand described a plot to set up the legendary comic.

The judge is expected to rule whether Jackson can testify and whether prosecutors can call 19 other women who in recent years went to the media to claim Cosby assaulted them.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Thursday, March 29, while the trial is on the calendar for Monday, April 2.

“[Cosby] submits that evidence of the civil settlement and of the underlying civil litigation with Constand may be admissible,” Cosby’s lawyers wrote in court filings ahead of the hearings. “Among other things, admissibility is warranted for impeachment of Constand, in showing her financial motive to lie about the allegations she made against Cosby, or for any other purpose … including as may be warranted by the testimony of Constand or otherwise.”

O’Neill declared a mistrial last summer in the original trial after jurors failed to reach a unanimous verdict. During that trial, the sealed civil settlement between Cosby and Constand was kept from jurors.

Constand claimed during a January 2004 visit to Cosby’s Philadelphia area home, he drugged and sexually assaulted her. She testified that she had come to the TV star’s home for advice.

When she told Cosby she had trouble sleeping and had a big decision to make, the comedian offered her what he described as a Benadryl tablet.

“These are what I use to help me to relax,” he told Constand, according to a deposition read in court.

Constand claimed the pills may have been Quaaludes and caused her to pass out.

She claimed Cosby forcibly groped her and, the next morning, made her tea and gave her muffin before seeing her out the door.

While Cosby has admitted to having an extramarital affair with Constand, he maintains that he never gave her quaaludes and he never assaulted her.

Prior to the start of Monday’s hearing, O’Neill offered a word of condolence to Cosby, whose daughter Ensa died of kidney failure at 44.

“Thank you, your honor,” Cosby said, as he stood and politely bowed to the judge.

Meanwhile, allowing the civil settlement, which was reached in 2006 after then-District Attorney Bruce Castor told Constand that there wasn’t evidence to proceed with a criminal case, promises to provide even more insight into Cosby’s relationship with Constand, a former Temple University employee.

It also offers a stark contrast to Cosby’s strategy a year ago when successfully argued that jurors should not hear about the civil suit or the settlement because “the value of the information is outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice.”

Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said the comedian is pleased with his new legal team, led by former Michael Jackson attorney Tom Mesereau.

“Having Tom certainly allows Mr. and Mrs. Cosby to sleep at night,” Wyatt said.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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