Criminal Justice

Former DA explains his 'prosecutor speak' on why he declined to charge Cosby

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A former Pennsylvania district attorney who declined to prosecute Bill Cosby in 2005 says his decision was based on the available evidence.

In an interview with NBC 10 in Philadelphia, former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor said the alleged victim had delayed going to police for a year, making prosecution too difficult. The Washington Post noted the story.

In the interview, Castor referred to his original explanation. “I didn’t say that he didn’t commit the crime,” Castor told the broadcast station. “What I said was there was insufficient, admissible, and reliable evidence upon which to base a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s ‘prosecutors speak’ for ‘I think he did it but there’s just not enough here to prosecute.’ ”

Castor was referring to allegations by a former Temple University employee who said Cosby, a big university donor, had fostered a friendship after she met him. She claimed Cosby invited her to his home with the promise of helping her pursue a different career, and when she visited him in January 2004 he drugged and sexually assaulted her. She didn’t go to police until January 2005. The woman sued Cosby (PDF) in 2005 and sued (PDF) the National Enquirer and Cosby’s lawyer in 2006, the Daily Beast reports, The National Enquirer suit alleged Cosby’s comments wrongly implied that she had asked for money before going to police.

In the NBC 10 interview, the broadcast station asked Castor if he believed Cosby was guilty. “At the time I remember thinking that he probably did do something inappropriate,” Castor said. “But thinking that and being able to prove it are two different things.”

The year delay, Castor said, meant that there was no ability to test the accuser to see if she had been drugged, no ability to test for DNA, and no ability to collect evidence from Cosby’s home with a search warrant.

Cosby lawyer John Schmitt released a joint statement with a lawyer for the former Temple employee, the Washington Post notes. The statement said their differences were resolved to their mutual satisfaction years ago, and neither intends to comment further.

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