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Lawyers for Bill Cosby have brought up the issue of race for the first time in his sexual assault case, as the 79-year-old entertainer faces the prospect of 13 women testifying in court that he drugged and molested them. Twelve of them are white.

Cosby is set to go on trial next June on charges he drugged and sexually violated Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

His legal team took aim at celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents about half the women who have agreed to testify against him.

Allred “calls herself a civil rights attorney, but her campaign against Mr. Cosby builds on racial bias and prejudice that can pollute the court of public opinion,” the lawyers said in a statement. “Mr. Cosby is no stranger to discrimination and racial hatred. 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.”

Allred called Team Cosby’s accusation against her “desperate.”

“With his latest pathetic attack on me, he unsuccessfully tries to portray himself as a victim rather than as a defendant in a criminal case accused of aggravated indecent sexual assault. This latest tactic will not work,” she stated. “He complains about racial bias but what about the African American women whom I represent who accuse him of sexual assault or rape and who refuse to remain silent about what they say they have suffered? I think they deserve a voice and I am proud to represent them. This is not an issue of racial bias. Instead, it is an issue of whether or not Mr. Cosby has committed acts of gender sexual violence.”

It’s unknown whether Cosby’s lawyers intend to bring up race during the trial. They have yet to raise any bias claims in court during their countless efforts to get the case thrown out.

Asked by the Associated Press to weigh in, Georgetown University sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson – author of the book “Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?” – said of the Cosby camp’s bias talk: “It is ironic that a man who has chastised the black poor for making race an excuse would now have to lean upon that as part of his defense strategy.”

“If you’re more cynical, you might say, ‘What manipulation of racial rhetoric in defense of the indefensible,’” Dyson said Thursday.

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(Photo Source: AP)

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