The judge set to sentence Bill Cosby in his sex assault case next week has rejected the disgraced comedian’s call for his recusal.
In an order signed Wednesday, Pennsylvania Judge Steven T. O’Neill said he’s perfectly capable of being fair and impartial in the case, despite Cosby’s claims he has bad blood with former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor, who declined to prosecute Cosby back in 2006.
–Tribune News Service
“This court is confident that it has and can continue to assess this case in an impartial manner, free of personal bias or interest in the outcome,” the judge wrote in the order denying Cosby’s motion. “The court will not recuse itself.”
O’Neill said Cosby’s motion was too late and “meritless.”
He said Cosby filed a prior recusal motion in March that failed, so the “I Spy” star was trying for a second bite of the apple by alleging the “personal feud” between O’Neill and Castor.
The judge scoffed at the latest attempt, saying it was hardly a revelation he ran against Castor for the DA post in 1999.
O’Neill said while it’s true he and Castor were political opponents nearly 20 years ago, they have come into contact on criminal cases since then with no claims of bias.
“Since 2009, Mr. Castor has, on occasion, appeared before this court as a criminal defense attorney and has never sought disclosure or disqualification of the court because of some perceived bias or ‘grudge’ against him,” O’Neill wrote.
“No ‘grudge,’ animus, bias or prejudice can be claimed because it simply does not exist,” he wrote.
It was last week that Cosby filed his motion for recusal on the same day his wife Camille released a statement attacking O’Neill.
“Bill Cosby was not afforded an impartial judge and he did not receive a fair trial. Instead, my husband was forced to go to trial before a judge, Steven T. O’Neill, who had a bitter, long-standing feud with one of the key witnesses in the case, Bruce Castor,” Camille said in her statement.
Castor initially declined to prosecute Cosby after accuser Andrea Constand stepped forward in 2005 and said the comedian sexually assaulted her inside his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004.
Castor later lost an election to current Montgomery County DA Kevin Steele, and Steele filed criminal charges against Cosby in December 2015, shortly before the statute of limitations on Constand’s allegations expired.
Before Cosby’s first trial in 2017, which ended in deadlock, O’Neill ruled the jurors would not hear about the alleged non-prosecution agreement Castor struck with Cosby’s lawyers.
Camille argued in her statement that O’Neill “refused to believe” Castor’s testimony about the agreement because of their alleged feud.
Cosby was convicted at a second trial in April and faces up to 10 years in prison on each of his three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault.
His sentencing hearing is set to begin Monday and could take more than a day.
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