Five women to testify in Cosby sexual assault case retrial, Pennsylvania court says

(CNN) — Five women who say Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them will be allowed to testify in his retrial, a Pennsylvania judge ruled Thursday, March 15.

The testimony of these women will come in addition to that of Andrea Constand, whose accusations are at the center of Commonwealth’s case. Cosby currently faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault for allegedly drugging and assaulting Constand at his home in 2004. His previous trial on those charges ended in a mistrial last June when jurors could not come to a unanimous verdict on any of the counts.

“This shows how desperate the prosecutors are and that this is a very weak case,” Cosby’s press representative Andrew Wyatt said in a statement to CNN. “Mr. Cosby is innocent of all of these charges.”

Earlier this month, prosecutors asked Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill to allow 19 accusers to testify, contending that their accounts are “strikingly similar” to Constand’s alleged drugging and assault in 2004.

Judge O’Neill ruled that prosecutors can choose five out of a group of eight women who say they were attacked by Cosby since 1982. Prosecutors must notify the court of their five witnesses by March 19, according to O’Neill’s order.

Kelly Johnson, who testified in Cosby’s previous trial, is among the accusers prosecutors can put on the stand in the retrial. The other accusers have not yet been identified.

3,500 jury notices have already gone out, Judge O’Neill said at the pre-trial hearing. The retrial will begin April 2 with jury selection and could last about a month.

Clarification: This article was updated to clarify the trial start date.