Five months after first being charged, and twelve years after an alleged sexual assault, Bill Cosby will have to face a jury of his peers in Pennsylvania on a criminal charge of sexual assault. Cosby and his legal team had challenged the indictment in federal court, but the judge ruled this afternoon that Andrea Constand’s allegations have enough evidence to qualify for a trial:
Disgraced television legend Bill Cosby will face trial over accusations that he sexually assaulted a woman after plying her with drugs at his Philadelphia home 12 years ago, a judge ruled Tuesday.
The 78-year-old pioneering black comedian looked subdued and kept his glance averted from onlookers as he left a county court house in Pennsylvania, dressed in a grey suit and floral tie, leaning on a member of his entourage.
More than 50 women have publicly alleged sexual abuse at the hands of the former megastar, who attained his greatest fame for his role as a lovable obstetrician and family man in the hit 1980s sitcom “The Cosby Show.”
But the allegations dating from 2004 and made by Andrea Constand, who worked for Temple University basketball team and now lives in Canada, have amounted to the only criminal assault charge brought against him.
Constand brought suit against Cosby shortly afterward the alleged assault, and the case was settled in 2006 with the depositions sealed. However, Constand demanded that the depositions get unsealed this summer after Cosby issued what turned out to be very badly considered public remarks about the case. The Philadelphia DA reviewed the depositions and decided to pursue Constand’s case as a criminal matter, while Cosby’s team argued that the settlement precluded any prosecution. It’s worth noting that the statute of limitations for filing charges would have come later this year, which may well be why the DA filed charges in December. The statute of limitations is now moot, although Cosby’s team will certainly argue that the passage of time has made it impossible to know the states of mind of the people involved.
That argument may not work well, however, given some of the other testimony already on the record:
Bill Cosby admitted to plying teens with booze and drugs before having sex with them, and to having girls regularly dispatched to him by a modeling agency, newly unearthed court papers show.
The comic said that at one point in his career, the agency would provide “five or six” young women each week, according to depositions he gave in 2005 and 2006 for a lawsuit. …
Constand’s lawyer asked whether Serignese gave consent for sex.
“I don’t know. How many years are we talking about? 197?” he said. “I meet Ms. Picking in Las Vegas. She meets me backstage. I give her Quaaludes. We then have sex.”
Cosby said he paid off Serignese through his reps at William Morris to keep her quiet.
Serignese is also one of Cosby’s accusers, but like most of them, the incidents are too far in the past for criminal prosecution. This case would have suffered the same fate if Cosby had not offered public remarks about the settlement. Now, barring any successful appeal, Cosby’s next act will take place in the courtroom rather than a nightclub stage or television studio.
Update: The arraignment will take place in a couple of months, but don’t expect a Cosby photo op:
At the July arraignment, Cosby will not have to appear. Judge says "goodluck to you, sir." He replies: "Thank you."
— Bobby Allyn (@BobbyAllyn) May 24, 2016
Despite a finding of probable cause of a crime, don’t expect to see a high bail in this case. Given Cosby’s profile and his health, the judge will keep it low enough to ensure that he doesn’t spend any time in jail before the trial.