STROUDSBURG, Pa., March 15 (Reuters) - Five women who have accused comedian Bill Cosby of sexually assaulting them will be allowed to testify at his upcoming retrial on charges of sexually assaulting a former friend, a Pennsylvania judge ruled Thursday, in a victory for prosecutors.
The decision by Judge Steven O'Neill is likely to have a major influence on the second trial of Cosby, 80, who is accused of attacking Andrea Constand, now 44, at his home near Philadelphia between Dec. 30, 2003, and Jan. 20, 2004.
His first trial in June ended with a hung jury in Judge O'Neill's courtroom at Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania. His retrial is set to begin before the same judge with jury selection beginning on March 29.
Bill Cosby's accusers:
Constand, a former administrator of the women's basketball team at Temple University in Philadelphia, Cosby's alma mater, is one of more than 50 women who have accused him of sexual assaults, some dating back decades.
All the claims but Constand's are too old to be the subject of criminal prosecution.
Cosby has repeatedly denied assaulting anyone, saying any sexual encounter was consensual.
"The Commonwealth shall be permitted to present evidence ... regarding five prior bad acts," Judge O'Neill wrote in his decision. (Additional reporting by Joseph Ax in New York; writing by Barbara Goldberg in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
See photos of Bill Cosby throughout his career:
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