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Cosby's lead defense lawyer quits ahead of re-trial

© AFP/File | Brian McMonagle, left, has quit the legal team of Bill Cosby, center, ahead of a scheduled re-trial

NEW YORK (AFP) - 

The top Philadelphia criminal defense attorney who helped Bill Cosby secure a hung jury on trial for sexual assault has quit ahead of the disgraced entertainer's scheduled re-trial.

Brian McMonagle, who proved his mettle with a tough-as-nails defense at one of America's biggest celebrity trials in years, has bowed out and replacements are being considered, a Cosby spokesman said Tuesday.

"Attorney McMonagle is no longer representing Mr Cosby," Andrew Wyatt told AFP, without elaborating on the reasons why. Co-counsel Angela Agrusa, who is based in California, remains on the team.

"I will be naming our new legal counsel at the end of the month," Wyatt said.

Cosby, 80, is scheduled to go back on trial for allegedly drugging and molesting a former university basketball official at his Philadelphia home in 2004.

Judge Steven O'Neill was forced to declare a mistrial in June when a jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict on three counts of aggravated indecent assault after more than 50 hours of deliberations in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

The deadlock was a victory of sorts for the pioneering black comedian, now frail and isolated, who risked spending the rest of his life in prison if convicted.

But the trial irrevocably damaged the once towering icon of US popular culture, loved by millions as "America's Dad" and best known for his seminal role as a father and obstetrician on hit 1984-92 TV series "The Cosby Show."

Around 60 women have publicly accused the Emmy-winning actor of being a serial sexual predator, alleging that he drugged and assaulted them over a span of 40 years across the United States.

But the trial was the only criminal case brought against Cosby as most of the alleged abuse happened too long ago to prosecute.

© 2017 AFP