On Wednesday Norristown, Pennsylvania Common Pleas Judge Steven O’Neill refused to throw out the sexual assault case that was brought against Bill Cosby on Wednesday. The ruling came after an intense two-day hearing, and the next move by the courts will be to conduct a preliminary hearing during which it will be determined whether the evidence against 78-year-old Cosby Is sufficient to try him for drugging and violating former Temple University athletic department employee, Andrea Constand. The woman claims Cosby drugged and sexually violated her at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004; the TV star whom played one of America’s favorite television dads, Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, could get up to 10 years in prison if he is convicted, according to a Tampa Tribune report.
Former Dist. Atty. Bruce Castor in 2005 ruled the case was too flawed for prosecutors to proceed, however his successors reopened the investigation last year after Cosby’s lurid testimony from a civil lawsuit filed by Constand was unsealed at the request of the Associated Press. Constand’s complaints are one of dozens more filed by women who claim to have been drugged then violated by Cosby over several decades.
During this week’s hearing Cosby’s lawyers requested the case be thrown out based on the former district attorney’s 2005 ruling. “In this case, the prosecution should be stopped in its tracks,” Cosby lawyer Chris Tayback argued. “Really what we’re talking about here is honoring a commitment.”
In the same vein, the actor’s lawyer claimed Cosby’s now deceased former attorney never would have let the TV star take the stand in that 2005 civil case if he believed criminal charges were not off the table. However, current District Attorney Kevin Steele questioned the existence of such an agreement since the attorney whom Castor dealt with is now dead and there are no court documents supporting Cosby’s alleged agreement.
In addition, Steele argued that Castor had no legal authority to guarantee criminal charges would never be pursued. “A secret agreement that allows a wealthy defendant to buy his way out of a criminal case isn’t right,” Steele told the judge.
For his part, Castor claims he didn’t file charges because among other things Constand did not report the alleged abuse for a year. She also had continued contact with Cosby and the defense suggested that she and her mother may have attempted to extort Cosby. In the unsealed testimony Cosby denied assaulting Constand but admitted to obtaining quaaludes to give to women he wanted to have sex with. Constand and Cosby settled the civil case against Cosby for an undisclosed amount of money. The current case is of criminal nature and considered unsettled.
The number of women to come forward and accuse Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them since the 1960s has risen to more than 50, however the statue of limitations for prosecution has expired in all of those cases. Constand’s case is the only active criminal one against Cosby. Mr. Cosby often spoke out against intolerable social behaviors and was considered a mentor for young television audiences and a soothing fatherly figure to many more. However, each new allegation has compromised his “nice guy” image and tainted his screen character’s reputation as a virtuous community figure and lovable dad.