Cosby charged with sexual assault in 2004 case

NORRISTOWN, Pa. -- Bill Cosby was charged Wednesday with 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.

See Full Article

The case sets the stage for perhaps the biggest Hollywood celebrity trial of the mobile-all-the-time era and could send the 78-year-old Cosby to prison in the twilight of his life and barrier-breaking career.

In bringing the case, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman overruled her predecessor, who declined to charge Cosby in 2005 when Temple University employee Andrea Constand first told police that the comic drugged her and violated her by putting his hands down her pants at his mansion in suburban Philadelphia.

Cosby was charged with aggravated indecent assault and was to be arraigned in the afternoon.

The TV star acknowledged under oath a decade ago that he had sexual contact with Constand but said it was consensual.

The charges were announced just days before the 12-year statute of limitations for bringing charges was set to run out.

Prosecutors reopened the case over the summer as damaging testimony was unsealed in Constand's related civil lawsuit against Cosby and as dozens of other women came forward with similar accusations that made a mockery of his image as the wise and understanding Dr. Cliff Huxtable from TV's "The Cosby Show."

Many of those alleged assaults date back decades, and the statute of limitations for bringing charges has expired in nearly every case.

Constand, who is now 42 and works as a massage therapist in her native Canada, is ready to face Cosby in court, her attorney, Dolores Troiani, said this fall.

"She's a very strong lady," Troiani said. "She'll do whatever they request of her."

The charges add to the towering list of legal problems facing the actor, including defamation and sex-abuse lawsuits filed in Boston, Los Angeles and Pennsylvania.

Cosby in 1965 became the first black actor to land a leading role in a network drama, "I Spy," and he went on to earn three straight Emmys. Over the next three decades, the Philadelphia-born comic created TV's animated "Fat Albert" and the top-rated "Cosby Show," the 1980s sitcom celebrated as groundbreaking television for its depiction of a warm and loving family headed by two black professionals -- one a lawyer, the other a doctor.

He was a fatherly figure off camera as well, serving as a public moralist and public scold, urging young people to pull up their saggy pants and start acting responsibly.

Constand, who worked for the women's basketball team at Temple, where Cosby was a trustee and proud alumnus, said she was assaulted after going to his home in January 2004 for some career advice.

Then-District Attorney Bruce Castor declined to charge Cosby, saying at the time that both the TV star and his accuser could be portrayed in "a less than flattering light." This year, Castor said the allegations in Constand's lawsuit were more serious than the account she gave police, and if that information had been known at the time, "we might have been able to make a case."

Castor tried to make a comeback as district attorney in the November election but lost to Ferman's top deputy.

After the criminal case went nowhere, Constand settled her lawsuit against Cosby in 2006 on confidential terms.

Her allegations and similar ones from other women in the years that followed did not receive wide attention but exploded into view in late 2014, first online, then in the wider media, after comedian Hannibal Buress mocked Cosby as a hypocrite and called him a rapist during a standup routine. That opened the floodgates on even more allegations.

Women mostly from the world of modeling, acting or other entertainment fields came forward and described being offered a drink by Cosby and waking up to find they had apparently been sexually assaulted. Cosby, through his representatives, accused some of the women of trying to extract money from him or get ahead in show business.

Earlier this year, The Associated Press persuaded a judge to unseal documents from the Constand lawsuit, and they showed the long-married Cosby acknowledging a string of affairs and sexual encounters.

Cosby testified that he obtained quaaludes in the 1970s to give to women he wanted to have sex with. He denied giving women drugs without their knowledge and said he had used the now-banned sedative "the same as a person would say, 'Have a drink."'

In the deposition, Cosby said he put his hands down Constand's pants that night and fondled her, taking her silence as a green light. Constand maintains she was semi-conscious after he gave her pills he said would relax her.

"I don't hear her say anything. And I don't feel her say anything. And so I continue and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped," Cosby testified.

He said Constand was not upset when she left that night. She went to police a year later.

Her lawyer has said Constand is gay and was dating a woman around the time she met Cosby in the early 2000s.

The AP generally does not identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they agree to have their names published, as Constand has done.

Laurie Levenson, a criminal law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said Cosby no longer enjoys the celebrity appeal that might sway a jury.

"His reputation has already been tarnished, so I doubt that jurors would be inclined to believe him just because of his prior image," she said in September. She said the judge in the case will have to decide whether to allow other accusers to testify or whether that would be too prejudicial.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Five highlights from the Polaris Music Prize short list

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- A dizzying array of musicians from distinctly different backgrounds round out this year's selection of Polaris Music Prize nominees. Ten contenders were revealed for the $50,000 award, which goes to the best album from a Canadian artist or band. Source
  • Diverse slate of voices among Polaris Music Prize contenders

    Entertainment CBC News
    Performers singing in at least five languages are among this year's diverse selection of Polaris Music Prize nominees. Arcade Fire, Daniel Caesar, Gord Downie longlisted for Polaris Prize Ten contenders were revealed for the $50,000 award, which goes to the best album from a Canadian artist or band, including the release Antisocialites from dream pop band Alvvays and Freudian by Toronto R&B singer Daniel Caesar. Source
  • Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, wears Canadian designer to London event

    Entertainment CBC News
    A fondness for Canadian fashion apparently hasn't waned for Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. The former Toronto resident was photographed this morning wearing a sleeveless trench dress by the Calgary brand Nonie. The new royal wore the tailored garment while attending the official opening of the Nelson Mandela Centenary Exhibition in London alongside her husband, Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry. Source
  • China's most expensive movie becomes epic flop

    Entertainment CTV News
    With a US$113-million budget, the most expensive Chinese film ever made has become a flop of historic proportions, pulled from theatres on its opening weekend after bringing in a paltry $7.3 million. Alibaba Pictures' special effects-heavy fantasy film "Asura" was intended as the first instalment in an epic trilogy inspired by Tibetan Buddhist mythology, part of a drive by authorities to promote works bearing elements of traditional Chinese culture. Source
  • Reality TV star charged over scuffle with hotel security

    Entertainment CTV News
    Los Angeles prosecutors have charged reality TV star Farrah Abraham with two misdemeanour charges over a scuffle with a Beverly Hills hotel security guard last month. Los Angeles district attorney's spokesman Ricardo Santiago said Monday that Abraham has been charged with misdemeanour battery and resisting, delaying or obstructing a peace office. Source
  • Johnny Depp settles lawsuits involving former managers

    Entertainment CBC News
    Johnny Depp has settled lawsuits with his former business managers that put a spotlight on the actor's lavish lifestyle. Depp's representatives said on Monday that the Pirates of the Caribbean star had settled litigation filed against The Management Group, which he accused in January 2017 seeking more than $25 million over alleged financial abuse and negligence. Source
  • Sacha Baron Cohen, Showtime push back against Sarah Palin

    Entertainment CBC News
    Showtime and Sacha Baron Cohen are pushing back against allegations the comedian duped guests on his new show by posing as a disabled veteran. The network says in a statement Monday that Baron Cohen "did not present himself as a disabled veteran" or wear any military apparel when he met with Sen. Source
  • Nickelodeon announces new 'Rugrats' episodes, movie

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Tommy, Chuckie and the gang have a new TV and movie deal. Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures have announced the animated children's series "Rugrats" is returning to the network with 26 episodes. Source
  • Author John Irving wins literary peace award

    Entertainment CTV News
    CINCINNATI -- The author of novels such as "The World According to Garp" and "The Cider House Rules" that examine the complexities of sexual differences and other social issues is this year's winner of a lifetime achievement award celebrating literature's power to foster peace, social justice and global understanding, organizers said Tuesday. Source
  • Broadway union investigating veteran actor's suicide

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- A Broadway union is investigating a veteran actor's suicide -- to see if it had anything to do with the way he was treated by a show director. On June 29, Jeff Loeffelholz died by suicide. Source