NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby made his first court appearance of the #MeToo era on Monday as defense lawyers tried without success to get his sexual assault case thrown out, then turned their attention to blocking some of the 80-year-old comedian’s dozens of accusers from testifying at his looming retrial.

Cosby’s retooled defense team, led by former Michael Jackson lawyer Tom Mesereau, argued that telephone records, travel itineraries and other evidence show the alleged assault couldn’t have happened when his accuser says it did and thus falls outside the statute of limitations.

Judge Steven O’Neill said he’d leave that for the jury to decide, rejecting a defense motion to dismiss the charges.

Cosby, who entered the courtroom on the arm of his spokesman, is charged with drugging and molesting a Temple University women’s basketball executive at his suburban Philadelphia home. Cosby said the encounter was consensual. A jury deadlocked on the case last year, setting the stage for a retrial.

Prosecutors sought Monday to persuade the judge to allow as many as 19 other accusers to take the stand, including model Janice Dickinson, in an attempt to show a sinister flip side to Cosby’s public persona as “America’s Dad,” cultivated through his role as an affable Jell-O pitchman and the star of the top-rated 1980s family sitcom “The Cosby Show.”

Prosecutors said the women’s testimony is vital to refuting the defense team’s “inevitable attacks” on the credibility of accuser Andrea Constand.

The accusers will provide evidence that Cosby “systematically engaged in a signature pattern of providing an intoxicant to his young female victim and then sexually assaulting her when she became incapacitated,” said Assistant District Attorney Adrienne D. Jappe.

Cosby’s lawyers have argued that some of the other accusers’ allegations date to the 1960s and present the defense with a nearly impossible burden. They say they will seek to delay the retrial if any of the women are permitted to testify so they can have more time to investigate their claims.

O’Neill said he would not rule on whether to allow the testimony by the end of the two-day hearing, calling it an “extraordinarily weighty issue” that he needs time to review.