Steven O’Neill, the judge in Bill Cosby‘s trial and upcoming retrial, refused to recuse himself after the defense voiced concerns about about his wife being a social worker for sexual assault victims, according to The Associated Press.
“How are my wife’s independent views of an independent woman connected to me?” O’Neill said in Montgomery County court. “She’s an independent woman and has the right to be involved in anything that she believes in.”
Cosby’s team complained that the judge’s wife, Deborah O’Neill, worked at the University of Pennsylvania as a psychotherapist, providing advocacy for sexual assault victims at the school. They also worried about a $100 donation made in her name to an organization that ended up giving money to protesters outside the retrial.
Judge O’Neil said that donation was made over a year ago by the university department. It wasn’t a personal donation, and didn’t come on her or their joint assets.
He insisted that he is not biased in this case. Saying that the defense was aware of his wife’s work back in December 2016 (months before the first trial), he said he simply could’ve refused to recuse himself because the Cosby lawyers asked only after all this time. He noted that they only brought up his wife’s work as a problem after getting bad rulings for the retrial.
It’s possible for Cosby’s team to appeal this decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Jury selection in the trial is expected to begin Monday in Cosby’s retrial, after the last one ended with a hung jury. Two holdouts reportedly refused to convict the 80-year-old comedian for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting Temple University employee Andrea Constand. Cosby’s defense claims that it was a consensual sexual act.
[Image of Cosby in 2017 via EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images]
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