Entertainment

Lawyer Leads Online Petition to Overturn Cosby Verdicts

Bill Cosby isn’t giving up his fight to clear his name, and while the comedian awaits his Sept. 24 sentencing for a sexual assault conviction, supporters have launched an online petition seeking 1,000 signatures to help spur an investigation into Montgomery County (Pa.) District Attorney Kevin Steele and Judge Steven O’Neill.

The petitioners cite the Sixth Amendment which states, in part, that individuals have a right to confront the witnesses against him and to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

“We wanted to organize and galvanize people because many of us who followed the trial or actually attended the trial, like I did, were very troubled with how everything went down,” said Nicole Lawrence, who started the petition.

Lawrence seeks 1,000 signatures and, to date, she’s already gathered more than one-third of that total.

“It seemed as though Mr. Cosby didn’t have a chance in hell with this prosecution and judge along with mainstream media who purposely did not check the backgrounds of [Cosby’s accusers],” Lawrence said, echoing the sentiment previously expressed by Cosby’s wife, Camille, who in 2015 cautioned the media to do just that.

Lawrence has taken up the call and she’s started a group called the “Bill Cosby is Innocent” campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in an effort she hopes will expose what really happened at trial.

In April, a jury found Cosby guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for a 2004 or 2003 incident between he and former Temple University employee Andrea Constand.

On the witness stand and in police statements, Constand flip-flopped repeatedly as to the type of relationship she had with the now 81-year-old comedian, who faces 10 years in prison for each of the three counts.

At one point, Constand told an investigator that she had never been alone with Cosby at his home except for that fateful night, which no one seems to remember exactly when it occurred.

During other testimony, she said she had been alone several times. While at first denying whether there had been any intimate contact such as kissing, Constand later admitted that there was.

Cosby’s team contends that if the star was going to drug her as had been charged, then why is it that he never attempted to have sexual intercourse.

“He’s going to jail because she put her hands on his penis and he put his hands in her pants,” said Alice Durkin, a courtroom observer. “He’s going to jail for foreplay. This is unreal and yet America has turned their backs on this man who had consensual foreplay and is going to prison because the prosecutor and the judge are caught up in this #MeToo stuff and, I believe, because Andrea Constand is White.”

Louisiana attorney Gavin Richard of the law office of Gavin M. Richard, LLC, which had no role in the case, has sent a letter to the state disciplinary board to protest Cosby’s verdicts and what he believes is misconduct on the part of both Steele and O’Neill.

He also lashed out at mainstream media.

“I was greatly disturbed by the coverage by mainstream media, which clearly pushed for a guilty verdict,” Richard said. “Media should be impartial, as should our judicial proceedings. I felt that the media had a prejudicial effect on the trial.

“The judge allowed several witnesses to testify whose accusations were beyond 30 years,” he said of O’Neill’s decision to allow five other women to testify against Cosby.

Those women, whose stories had long been either discredited or had never been alleged before law enforcement or a courtroom, testified about incidents they claimed occurred as far back as 1981.

During Cosby’s first trial, which ended in a mistrial, O’Neill only allowed one other accuser to testify. Inexplicably, he reversed himself for the second trial, which resulted in guilty verdicts.

“Mr. Cosby was neither charged nor convicted in regards to those [other women claims],” Richard said.

The attorney also found problems with Steele’s campaign for district attorney in which he vowed to get Cosby if elected.

Richard also said O’Neill permitted outbursts that tainted the jury.

“The judge allowed outbursts on the witness stand in front of the jury that was prejudicial, and on top of that, it’s my understanding that there were special interrogatories that were to be given during deliberations that the judge did not give,” Richard said.

O’Neill allowed a juror to remain in the box after he was overheard saying, “We can all go home, Cosby’s guilty,” even before the trial began.

The judge also failed to sanction two assistant district attorneys who publicly made racially-tinged remarks toward Cosby and his team.

“So it was highly prejudicial and our legal system, which says innocent until proven guilty, seems to be in jeopardy,” Richard said. “Cosby was guilty until proven guilty. There were too many Sixth Amendment violations.”

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Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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