Bill Cosby, the beleaguered comedian accused by upwards of 50 women of sexual assault, was charged today by prosecutors in the Philadelphia suburb of Norristown. This marks the first time the iconic 78-year-old actor has been formally charged with assault, despite allegations that date back to incidents that reportedly occurred in the mid-1960s.
Reports The Associated Press on Dec. 30, via MSN News: “Bill Cosby was charged Wednesday with drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at his home 12 years ago — the first criminal charges brought against the comedian out of the torrent of allegations that destroyed his good-guy image as America’s Dad.”
The AP report says the case “sets the stage for perhaps the biggest Hollywood celebrity trial… and could send the 78-year-old Cosby to prison in the twilight of his life and barrier-breaking career.”
Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Kevin R. Steele said the official charge brought against Bill Cosby is first-degree aggravated indecent assault, defined by Steele as “penetration without the consent of his victim.”
The victim bringing the charges against Cosby is former Temple University employee Andrea Constand.
In 2004, Constand accused Cosby of drugging and fondling her. A year later, the Montgomery County’s District Attorney dismissed the charge for a lack of “credible and admissible evidence.” Thereafter, Constand filed a civil suit, threatening to have over a dozen potential witnesses testify if the case went to trial. Cosby settled, out of court, and the monetary amount awarded to Constand was never disclosed.
Steele added: “Pills were provided. Wine was provided. The victim was frozen, paralyzed. A person in that condition is not able to give consent.”
During Constand’s 2005 civil court rape case, it was revealed in July that Cosby had admitted to obtaining Quaaludes – the brand name of the depressant drug methaqualone that acts as a sedative and hypnotic – with the intent of giving them to younger women to coerce them into having sex with the comedian. Cosby said at the time that he and Constand did have sex, but that it was consensual.
“The evidence is strong and sufficient enough to proceed with the charges,” Steele told reporter, adding that the new District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said the evidence was strong enough to warrant an arrest. The 10-year statue to charge Cosby would have expired on December 31 of this year.
The 42-year-old Constand, who works in Canada as a massage therapist, is ready to face her attacker in court, her attorney Dolores Troiani said. “She’s a very strong lady. She’ll do whatever they request of her,” Troiani commented.
According to USA Today, Bill Cosby is expected to be arraigned in front of a magistrate in Elkins Park, Pa., at approximately 4 p.m. ET.