Cosby out and about buffing up his image


PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bill Cosby is suddenly out and about in his hometown of Philadelphia in what legal experts say appears to be an effort by the comedian to rebuild his good-guy image ahead of his retrial on sexual assault charges in the spring.

In the past two weeks, the 80-year-old Cosby emerged from a long period of near-seclusion to have dinner with friends at a restaurant and gave his first comedy performance in more than two years. Cosby’s publicists turned both nights into media spectacles, letting reporters tag along as he enjoyed penne and sausage earlier this month and inviting cameras in as he told jokes Monday at a jazz club.

Legal experts say Cosby’s team appears to be orchestrating the public outings and media coverage to influence potential jurors at his April 2 retrial on charges of molesting a Temple University employee at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. The former TV star’s first trial ended in a hung jury last June.

“It’s the ‘Bill Cosby is not a bad guy’ defense,” said Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson.

By playing up Cosby’s comedic past and Philadelphia roots, Levenson said, his team is attempting to recast his image from that of a predator accused of drugging and molesting about 60 women over five decades.

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