Cosby performs in public for first time since sex abuse scandal

FAN Editor

PHILADELPHIA — Bill Cosby has performed in public for the first time since a sex abuse scandal embroiled him in 2015, telling stories and honoring old friends in his hometown Monday as a retrial looms in his criminal sexual assault case. The 80-year-old entertainer took the stage Monday night at a Philadelphia jazz club for his first show since May 2015.

His last comedy tour ended amid protests as about 60 women were coming forward to accuse him of drugging and molesting them over five decades, something he has denied.

Cosby arrived at the club on the arm of his spokesman Andrew Wyatt. He wore a gray hoodie printed with the phrase “Hello Friend,” something his late son, Ennis Cosby, often would say.

Reports say the ticketed show happened at the Tony Williams Jazz Quartet at the Lorosa Jazz Club.

A reporter for Philadelphia’s public radio station posted a video on Twitter showing Cosby sitting on a stool:

Cosby is scheduled for an April 2 retrial on charges he drugged and molested a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He has pleaded not guilty and remains free on bail. His first trial ended with a hung jury last year. Jury selection for his retrial will start March 29.

Cosby’s spokesman notified reporters of the comedy performance about two hours before he was to take the stage at the LaRose Jazz Club. The show was part of a program honoring jazz musician Tony Williams.

Cosby told stories before a friendly crowd, honored old friends and finished by leading the band in a set, first using his mouth to scat in place of a missing horn section and then taking a turn at the drums. Cosby asked the 11-year-old son of the club’s bass player if he knew who he was and deadpanned, “I used to be a comedian.”

The crowd applauded and laughed along with Cosby’s jokes and was his latest step back into the spotlight he’s mostly shied from since his December 2015 arrest.

Two weeks ago, Cosby invited reporters to tag along as he ate dinner with old friends at a Philadelphia restaurant.

Over the weekend, Cosby’s social media accounts featured photos of him visiting a barber and a cafe in the area and showing support for the Philadelphia Eagles, who won Sunday’s NFC Championship game against the Minnesota Vikings and secured a spot in the Super Bowl.

Here’s one of two videos Cosby posted on his Twitter account:

When a reporter asked Cosby about his upcoming retrial for the alleged assault of Andrea Constand, he said, “We’re ready.” The trial is set for April. Constand alleged that Cosby drugged and molested her in 2004. She said in court that Cosby gave her pills and penetrated her with his fingers against her will while she was paralyzed and half-conscious. She said that they never had a romantic relationship, and that she had rebuffed his previous advances toward her. Cosby said the encounter was consensual.

Dozens of women have accused Cosby of sexual assault, but the statute of limitations for prosecution had run out in almost all of the cases. Cosby was only charged in Constand’s case. The judge in the sexual assault trial in June declared a mistrial after jurors said they were deadlocked after five days of deliberations.

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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