Criminal Justice

Judge says sexual assault case against Bill Cosby can proceed toward trial

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Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby. Image from Randy Miramontez /

A suburban Philadelphia judge on Tuesday gave a green light for a criminal sexual assault case against Bill Cosby to proceed toward trial.

Charged with three counts of felony indecent assault, the 78-year-old entertainer could get as much as 10 years if he is convicted in the case. Cosby waived arraignment, so a not-guilty plea was automatically entered, reports the New York Times (reg. req.).

Contrary to what some observers had expected, the hearing was based on statements made to police more than a decade ago. The alleged victim said she had been in a stupor after Cosby gave her some pills and urged her to take them with wine, feeling nauseated, with blurry vision and rubbery legs as he penetrated her with his fingers, according to the Associated Press and CNN.

In his statement to police, Cosby contended that the sexual activity had been consensual and said he gave her one and a half Benadryl pills that he used as a sleep aid. At Tuesday’s hearing in Norristown, the defense sought to discredit the woman, pointing to the apparent fact that she continued to have some dealings with Cosby after the 2004 incident.

“The evidence presented today was evidence of nothing. They had 12 years to bring an accuser to confront Mr. Cosby. They chose not to,” attorney Brian McMonagle, who represents Cosby, said afterward, contending that there is “no evidence of a crime here.”

However, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said the state had done what it is supposed to do at a preliminary hearing—establish that a crime occurred and link the defendant to that crime.

In an extraordinary outpouring, more than 50 women have publicly accused the 78-year-old entertainer of similar crimes in recent years, but many of the alleged incidents date back for decades—some as far as the 1960s, putting them beyond the statute of limitations.

By contrast, the former Temple University athletic department employee who says she was victimized in the Montgomery County case complained of an assault in early 2004 at Cosby’s suburban Philadelphia home. That was within the state’s 12-year deadline for bringing such cases when charges were filed late last year, as an opinion piece in the New York Times (reg. req.) and the Washington Post (reg. req.) explained earlier.

Civil litigation over alleged sexual assaults is ongoing, including dueling defamation claims between Cosby and some of his accusers.

In 2006, Cosby and the Temple employee reached a confidential civil settlement over the 2004 incident. However, he is now suing her and other defendants, contending that she breached the settlement agreement, in part by cooperating with the prosecution in the criminal case, another CNN article reports.

Related coverage: “Judge OKs criminal case against Bill Cosby, rejects immunity argument”

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