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The judge overseeing Bill Cosby’s retrial has chosen not to recuse himself after defense lawyers demanded he step aside due to his wife’s work. His wife is a social worker that advocates for sexual assault victims.
In a pre-trial hearing on Thursday, Judge Steven O’Neill said that he was “not biased or prejudiced” by his wife’s work. The idea that he might have the same views as his wife “is faulty, plain and simple,” he said.
Cosby is set to stand trial this upcoming week in the alleged drugging and assault of Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. O’Neill oversaw the previous trial that ended in a mistrial.
The judge’s wife, Deborah O’Neill, is the coordinator of the Sexual Trauma Treatment Outreach and Prevention team at the University of Pennsylvania, CNN reports. Cosby’s lawyers brought up a $100 donation made in her name to an organization that was involved in planning protests outside Cosby’s retrial.
“She is a strong and independent person,” O’Neill said of his wife. “She holds absolutely no interest in the case… beyond the interest of any person with a strong view of the issues that impact this nation,” the judge said.
O’Neill also pointed out that the defense team was aware of his wife’s work as far back as December 2016, but that they waited until several rulings that were not in their favor to make it an issue. O’Neill had recently ruled that up to five additional accusers were allowed to testify in the trial.
At one point, O’Neill’s voice broke as he made his point: “What we do not share are unified views of social, legal and political issues,” he said of his wife. “They do not influence me one iota and is no consequence.”
Jury selection for the trial is scheduled to begin on Monday.
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