Bill Cosby Ordered To Stand Trial In Criminal Case

by JESSICA GOLDSTEIN –

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At a hearing on Tuesday, comedian and alleged serial rapist Bill Cosby was ordered to stand trial on sexual assault charges. After determining the prosecutors had enough evidence to bring Cosby to trial, District Judge Elizabeth McHugh set Cosby’s arraignment for July 20. If convicted, Cosby could be sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The accuser in this case is former Temple University employee Andrea Constand, who alleges Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her at his mansion in Cheltenham, a suburb of Philadelphia, in 2004. Though some had expected Constand would come face-to-face with Cosby on Tuesday, she was not in court. Judge McHugh ruled that Constand did not have to testify. Instead, segments of the statement she gave to the police in 2005 were read and entered into the record.

As the Associated Press reported, Constand “told police in 2005 that the comedian penetrated her with his fingers after giving her pills that made her dizzy, blurry-eyed and sick to her stomach, her legs ‘like jelly.’”

Constand said Cosby gave her pills that he claimed were “herbal medication” and that he pressured her to drink wine, even though she told him she didn’t want to drink and hadn’t eaten anything. “Everything was blurry and dizzy. I felt nauseous,” she told police.

Constand told police that she said, “’I can’t even talk, Mr. Cosby.’ I started to panic,” and Cosby told her to lie down on the couch as he got behind her. She woke up with her bra out of place, she said, and has no memory of undoing it.

Cosby told the police that the encounter was consensual and that the pills he gave Constand were Benadryl.

Nearly 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct. Many have filed civil cases against him; most of those cases, due to expired statutes of limitation, concern defamation. (Chloe Goins, a notable exception, is suing Cosby in civil court for sexual assault; she recently added Playboy founder and aging mascot Hugh Hefner to her lawsuit on the grounds that he was a “conspirator” in her assault, which she says took place at the Playboy Mansion in 2008.)

But the statute for aggravated indecent assault in Pennsylvania is 12 years. Cosby was criminally charged days before the statute was due to run out, on December 30, 2015.

Cosby has been trying to get this case thrown out for months. Earlier this year, he claimed that former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor, who did not bring charges against Cosby, promised Cosby he would not be prosecuted in the Constand case. (Constand and Cosby settled in civil court in 2006.) Cosby’s lawyers insisted that this promise should extend to all future holders of the district attorney’s office, and that Cosby had testified “freely” in Constand’s civil suit because he believed he was immune from further criminal prosecution.

That deposition made headlines when portions of it were published last July; in it, Cosby admits to getting Quaaludes to use on “young women that [he] wanted to have sex with.” It is, to date, arguably the most damning evidence against Cosby that has been made available to the public.

Cosby will enter a plea and a trial date will be set at his arraignment on July 20.

 

Reprinted with permission from Think Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress