Bill Cosby sexual assault trial could start in June 2017

US comedian is accused of drugging and assaulted a woman in 2004

bill cosby

Bill Cosby arrives for a pretrial hearing in July 2016 | File photo: PA Images

Bill Cosby has been told by a US judge that his sexual assault trial has been scheduled for June 5th, 2017.

The 79-year-old, who faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted, was back in a courthouse in Pennsylvania on Tuesday as part of his attempt to avoid standing trial.

However, Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill set the date and said it could begin earlier if schedules allow.

The comedian is accused of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand at his Philadelphia home in 2004.

Cosby had mentored Ms Constand at Temple University at the time. He had been a university trustee and she managed the university's women's basketball team.

Cosby has admitted giving her a pill but accuses her of lying about the assault.

Ms Constand said she had thought the pills were herbal products and that she was later floating in and out of consciousness.

Montgomery County prosecutor Kevin Steele said he wanted to bring up to 13 other women also allegedly assaulted by Cosby to testify at the trial.

But Cosby's legal team will likely put up fierce resistance to such an attempt.

His lawyers said in court their client was "not giving up the fight for his rights" and accused a lawyer representing other alleged sexual assault victims of waging a campaign built "on racial bias and prejudice".

"When the media repeats her accusations - with no evidence, no trial and no jury - we are moved backwards as a country and away from the America that our civil rights leaders sacrificed so much to create," they said.

More than 50 women have accused Cosby of attacking them over several decades.

Cosby has denied assaulting anyone and portrayed his sexual relationships with the women, including with Ms Constand, as consensual.

The vast majority of the alleged abuses happened too long ago to prosecute.