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Cosby, daughter, lawyer speak out as sex assault trial looms

Cosby, daughter, lawyer speak out as sex assault trial looms

PHILADELPHIA — Bill Cosby and his delegates are speaking out in select media interviews Wednesday, a month before jury selection starts in his Pennsylvania sex assault trial.

Cosby tells a black news service that he is working on new material and hopes to resume his entertainment career.

"I think about walking out on stage somewhere in the United States of America and sitting down in a chair and giving the performance that will be the beginning of the next chapter of my career," Cosby said in what his publicist described as an email exchange with the National Newspaper Publishers Association that began several months ago.

"I miss it all and I hope that day will come. I have some routines and storytelling that I am working on," Cosby said.

Cosby, 79, also told the outlet that he lost his vision suddenly two years ago, calling out one morning to his wife, "I can't see." He did not elaborate on the cause of the disability, and publicist Andrew Wyatt declined to discuss the actor's diagnosis or medical history.

Lawyers have told the trial judge that Cosby is legally blind, making it impossible to even identify women who said he sexually assaulted them over the past 50 years. The trial involves one accuser, former Temple University employee Andrea Constand, who said she was drugged and sexually assaulted in 2004 at Cosby's home.

Jury selection is set to start May 22 in Pittsburgh, where the jury is being chosen because of pretrial publicity. The jury will then be sequestered about 300 miles away in Montgomery County, near Philadelphia, where the trial is set to start June 5. Lawyers expect it to last about two weeks.

Cosby's youngest daughter, Evin, released a letter Wednesday to several news outlets, describing her father as a man who "loves and respects women."

"We live in a scandalous country where the more sexualized and provocative the story, the more attention it gets," she wrote. "If enough people think you are a bad person, you are branded a bad person and the media just reinforces that. My dad, like anyone in this country, deserves to be treated fairly under the law."

Wyatt said the surprise public statements are not part of any broader pretrial media strategy.

"I am not trying to influence a jury pool," Wyatt told The Associated Press. "She felt the need to speak up on her dad's behalf."

One of Cosby's lead lawyers also spoke to the media for a story Wednesday. Los Angeles lawyer Angela Agrusa told The Hollywood Reporter the defence hopes to attack the reliability of witnesses' memories, given the 13-year gap since the encounter took place. The defence has previously tried, unsuccessfully, to have the charges dismissed based on expert studies that cast doubt on the accuracy of witness memory. She also said lawyers hope to mount a comeback story and "rehabilitate his reputation."

In addition to Constand, one other accuser will be allowed to testify at the upcoming trial, a woman who worked for Cosby's agent at the William Morris Agency and says Cosby drugged and molested her in 1996.

Cosby, long beloved as America's Dad for playing Dr. Cliff Huxtable on his sitcom "The Cosby Show" from 1984 to 1992, testified during Constand's related 2005 lawsuit that he engaged in sexual contact with her after giving her wine and three unidentified pills. He said she did not cry out or otherwise object as he put his hand down her pants. Constand, who is gay, told police the pills left her in a stupor.

Police reopened their 2005 probe after Cosby's testimony was unsealed in 2015.

The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they are sexual assault victims unless they give permission, which Constand has done.

Maryclaire Dale, The Associated Press