Bill Cosby's defense lawyer quits, won't be at second trial

Bill Cosby is looking for a new lead defense lawyer: Brian McMonagle has quit the team as Cosby prepares for a second trial on sexual-assault charges.

Cosby publicist Andrew Wyatt confirmed McMonagle, a noted Philadelphia criminal defense attorney, is out. McMonagle did not return an email seeking comment from USA TODAY.

The news comes six weeks after Cosby's first trial on charges of aggravated indecent sexual assault ended in a hung jury and mistrial on June 17 in Norristown, Pa., in suburban Philadelphia.

Cosby's team also included Los Angeles attorney Angela Agrusa. Wyatt said a new lawyer to replace McMonagle has not been named.

"It's true and we're still vetting lawyers that are on my short list," Wyatt told USA TODAY. "That person will be named later in the month."

Cosby has until Aug. 21 to find a new lawyer. His second trial is scheduled to start Nov. 6. He is charged with drugging and molesting former Temple University basketball manager Andrea Constand in 2004 at his nearby home. He says their encounter was consensual.

Wyatt did not say why McMonagle is leaving Cosby's team.

During the trial, McMonagle said little in public to the reporters covering the case while Wyatt held press conferences and made controversial statements.

"Mr. Cosby’s power is back!” Wyatt declared, pumping his fist in the air, after the mistrial was announced.

Wyatt has been Cosby's spokesman since early 2015, after the comedian's longtime publicist quit and after dozens of women started coming forward to accuse Cosby of raping them in episodes dating back to the mid-1960s. Wyatt has depicted Cosby as a civil-rights hero fighting a smear campaign.

After the mistrial, Wyatt and an associate said on a morning talk show in Birmingham, Ala., that Cosby planned a summer series of town hall lectures to young people about how bad behavior could lead to sexual-assault charges.

A firestorm of criticism erupted. McMonagle declined to comment about whether it was a good idea for Cosby to speak publicly while awaiting retrial, leaving it to Agrusa to declare the lecture series wouldn't happen.

Wyatt then issued a statement from Cosby, who called the story about his lecture series "false propaganda."     

© 2017 USA TODAY


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