A Pennsylvania appeals court rejected Bill Cosby‘s bid to overturn his sexual assault conviction Tuesday over the trial judge’s decision to let five other accusers testify.

The Superior Court ruling was being closely watched because Cosby was the first celebrity tried and convicted in the #MeToo era. The same issue has been hard-fought in pretrial hearings before movie mogul Harvey Weinstein‘s sexual assault trial.

Cosby’s lawyers in his appeal said the trial judge had improperly allowed the five women to testify at last year’s retrial although he’d let just one woman testify at the first trial in 2017.

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But the Superior Court said Pennsylvania law allows the testimony if it shows Cosby had a “signature” pattern of drugging and molesting women. He can now ask the state Supreme Court to consider his appeal.

Cosby, 82, has been serving a three- to 10-year prison term for the 2004 encounter at his suburban Philadelphia home, which he deemed consensual. His lawyers also argued that he had a binding promise from a former prosecutor that he would never be charged in the case and could testify freely at a deposition in accuser Andrea Constand’s related lawsuit.

He was arrested a decade later, after a federal judge unsealed portions of the deposition at the request of The Associated Press and new prosecutors reopened the criminal case.

The three-judge Superior Court panel, in arguments in Harrisburg in August, asked why Cosby’s lawyers didn’t get a written immunity agreement and have it approved by a judge, instead of relying on an oral promise.

“This is not a low-budget operation we were operating here. They had an unlimited budget,” said Superior Court Judge John T. Bender, who questioned whether any court would have approved the deal.

Andrea Constand weighed in on the upheld verdict in a text message published by the AP: “This decision is a reminder that no one is above the law.”

Cosby’s spokesperson Andrew Wyatt was disappointed with the outcome. He shared his frustrations in a statement on Tuesday: “This isn’t about justice. This is a political scheme to destroy America’s Dad.”

Attorney Gloria Allred, who represented several of Cosby’s accusers, issued a statement praising the court’s decision to deny his appeal. “I represented the majority of the prior bad act witnesses who testified in the criminal trial in which Bill Cosby was convicted of three felonies of aggravated indecent assault,” said Allred. “I have always believed and publicly stated that their testimony was essential and that the jury needed to hear from them to determine the truth. They were permitted to testify and I am very grateful that the Pennsylvania Court of Appeals has affirmed the trial court’s decision to allow their testimony.

Allred continued: “Their testimony clearly established that Mr. Cosby had a plan to drug and sexually assault women. His plan was to drug them so that they could not refuse to engage in sexual acts with him. In other words, he knew that they did not consent to his sexual assaults because by drugging them he took away their power to consent or refuse consent. He knew that they did not and could not consent to his sexual assaults upon them. The testimony of these witnesses helped the jury to understand that Mr. Cosby knew when he drugged Andrea Constand that she also had no power to consent to Mr. Cosby’s criminal act against her and that is why he was convicted. What the justices called Cosby’s ‘unique sexual assault playbook’ was revealed to the jury as nothing but a criminal plan to drug and sexually assault women.”

Her statement concluded: I am very proud to have represented these courageous prior bad act witnesses who helped to win justice and put this sexual predator in prison where he belongs. This decision is an important victory for victims’ rights and should send a message to powerful men that they will face serious consequences if they sexually victimize women.”

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O’Neill’s decision to let five other accusers testify came after more than 60 women accused Cosby of sexual misconduct. Prosecutors asked to call 19 of them. Superior Court Judge John Bender appeared to agree with O’Neill’s logic in letting some take the stand.

“The reality of it is, he gives them drugs and then he sexually assaults them. And in four out of the five, those were in mentor situations,” Bender said.

Kristen L. Weisenberger, representing Cosby, said one of the women wasn’t even sure she was sexually assaulted. However, prosecutors said, that’s how Cosby planned it.

O’Neill had allowed just one other accuser at Cosby’s first trial in 2017, when the jury deadlocked. Cosby’s lawyers called his later decision to let more women testify arbitrary and prejudicial.

The long-married Cosby, once beloved as “America’s Dad” for his TV role as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the hugely popular sitcom “The Cosby Show,” has acknowledged having sexual contact with a string of younger women, many of whom came to him for career advice and took alcohol or pills he offered them.

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He and his lawyers and agents have suggested that many of the accusers were “gold diggers” seeking money or fame. He told a news outlet in November that he expects to serve the maximum 10-year sentence if he loses the appeal, because he would never express remorse to the parole board.

Cosby agreed to pay Constand, a former Temple University basketball team manager, about $3.4 million to settle her lawsuit. His insurance company, following his conviction, settled at least nine other defamation lawsuits filed by accusers for undisclosed sums.

The AP does not typically identify sexual assault victims without their permission, which Constand has granted.