Monique Pressley, the Washington, D.C.-based lawyer who has been acclaimed for her adept and rigorous defense of beleaguered entertainer Bill Cosby as he faces multiple allegations of sexual assault against women, is no longer part of his legal team, a Cosby spokesman confirmed to several news outlets.

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby is helped as he leaves a court appearance, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in Elkins Park, Pa. Cosby was arrested and charged with drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at his home in January 2004. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby is helped as he leaves a court appearance, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in Elkins Park, Pa. Cosby was arrested and charged with drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at his home in January 2004. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Andrew Wyatt, the actor’s spokesman, did not offer a reason for Pressley’s departure in an interview with The New York Times, saying only that it is not uncommon for people involved in high-profile cases to change their representation.

Angela Agrusa, head of litigation at LA and New York firm Liner LLP, which was already representing Cosby in civil litigation arising from the sexual assault accusations lodged by 50 women, and Pennsylvania-based Brian McMonagle now lead Cosby’s defense team. The comedian faces three felony charges of second-degree aggravated indecent assault filed in Pennsylvania. District Attorney Kevin Steele, of Montgomery County, Pa., filed in December 2015,  the charges, stemming from the alleged drugging and rape of then-Temple University employee Andrea Constand in 2004.

This is the third major shakeup in Cosby’s legal team—lead attorney Christopher Tayback was released a little over two months ago, and the entertainer’s longtime lawyer Martin Singer was replaced in October 2015.

In the summer of 2015, Pressley became the public face of Cosby’s defense team—escorting him to court appearances and defending him in the media with such poise and competence that it prompted comparisons to Johnnie Cochran and the mythical Olivia Pope of “Scandal” fame, and comments such as that of the Pérez Law Corp., which tweeted, “Whatever you believe about #BillCosby, we have to say that his lawyer @MoniquePressley is excellent!”

Attorney Pressley came onboard just when details of a 2006 deposition, in which Cosby admitted to pursuing Constand and to buying quaaludes to help him have sex with women among other disturbing revelations, became publicized. The disclosures further turned the public tide against the comedian.

Her exit now comes after Cosby suffered several legal defeats, including Judge Steven O’Neill’s denial of habeas corpus in the Pennsylvania criminal case.

Pressley has not made any public comments regarding her departure.

 

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO