Lawyers clash over use of accusers' names at Cosby hearing


NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A judge admonished lawyers on both sides of Bill Cosby's sexual assault case today after a courtroom shouting match over the defense team's practice of publicizing the names of the women accusing the comedian of sexual assault.

Judge Steven O'Neill of Montgomery County Court denounced the outburst as uncivil. It came at the start of what is expected to be a two-day hearing on whether prosecutors will be allowed to call 13 accusers as trial witnesses, a key part of their strategy to show the 79-year-old Cosby had a decades-long habit of drugging and molesting women.

Cosby's lawyers want the accusers barred from testifying at his trial on charges that he sexually assaulted a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. The defense was expected to attack their credibility and relevance as they try to keep them off the witness stand.

They encountered an early setback today when Judge O'Neill refused to hear from one of their experts, Elizabeth Loftus, a psychologist who has questioned the reliability of eyewitness and witness memory. The judge said Loftus wouldn't help him decide if the accusers can testify but added she might be allowed to take the stand at Cosby's trial next year.

The high-stakes hearing was testy from the start, as District Attorney Kevin Steele clashed with Cosby lawyer Brian McMonagle over the defense's insistence on identifying accusers by name in public documents and a court hearing.

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