NORRISTOWN, Pa. — A judge Thursday denied Bill Cosby’s effort to compel the accuser in his criminal sex assault case to testify before trial, ruling he shouldn’t get a new preliminary hearing.

Earlier, Cosby’s lawyers told the judge they needed to cross-examine accuser Andrea Constand before trial because her statement to police raised more questions than it answered.

The defense asked the trial judge, Steven T. O’Neill, to dismiss the case or schedule a new preliminary hearing.

Cosby’s lawyers said a lower court found probable cause this spring based solely on decade-old police statements, and they complained that defense lawyers had no way to challenge the allegations.

After Thursday’s ruling, Cosby lawyer Brian McMonagle said he was confident Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court will reverse the decision.

“Once again the prosecution in this case had the opportunity and the obligation to place this witness under oath so that we could conduct a search for the truth. And, once again, they refused to do so,” McMonagle said.

“Today, someone who has given so much to so many had his constitutional rights trampled upon once again.”

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele countered that the right of defendants like Cosby to confront their accusers in court doesn’t apply at Pennsylvania preliminary hearings.

Steele told the judge he was using the 2013 rule change to spare Constand and other sex crime victims from multiple cross-examinations.

The comedian, 78, was held for trial in May based on his and Constand’s police statements from 2005.