(Reuters) – Bill Cosby was due back in court on Tuesday to seek a judge’s approval to have a lawyer who successfully defended the late singer Michael Jackson against child molestation charges represent the comedian at his sex assault retrial.
Cosby’s first Pennsylvania trial on charges that he sexually assaulted a former administrator at his alma mater ended in May with a hung jury, and the 80-year-old entertainer wants a new legal team to represent him when he faces the charges again in November.
It was unclear if Cosby would attend the session Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas in Norristown, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia.
The three-person defense team includes Tom Mesereau, who is best known for helping to secure an acquittal for Jackson in the pop star’s 2005 child molestation trial in California. The
Cosby built a long career on a family-friendly style of comedy before several dozen women publicly accused him of sexual assault in a series of attacks dating back to the 1960s.
All but one of those allegations was too old to be the subject of criminal prosecution. Andrea Constand, formerly of Temple University, accused Cosby of sexually assaulting her in his Philadelphia-area home in 2004, and he was charged in December 2015, shortly before the statute of limitations on the alleged crime was to expire.
Cosby has denied all wrongdoing and said that any sexual contact with any of his accusers was consensual.
Besides Mesereau, lawyers Kathleen Bliss and Sam Silver will represent Cosby, according to a statement by Andrew Wyatt, Cosby’s publicist. The new team will replace Brian McMonagle and Angela Agrusa, who previously withdrew from the case.
The pair have not said why they left Cosby’s team, but toward the end of the trial they appeared at odds with Wyatt, who would deliver impromptu news conferences outside the courthouse without McMonagle’s knowledge.
At one point during jury deliberations, the judge expressed annoyance that Wyatt had told reporters the time had come to declare a mistrial, prompting McMonagle to make it clear that Wyatt did not speak for the legal team.
The peak of Cosby’s career came in the 1980s when he earned a reputation as “America’s favorite dad” for his role as Heathcliff Huxtable on the TV hit “The Cosby Show.”
Reporting by Joseph Ax; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Cynthia Osterman