Bill Cosby is not shielded from prosecution, DA says

NORRISTOWN, Pa. -- The prosecutor in the sexual assault case against Bill Cosby argued Wednesday that a previous district attorney had no legal authority to make a deal a decade ago that supposedly shields the comedian from ever facing charges.

See Full Article

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said that the no-prosecution agreement -- which was never put in writing and was only alluded to in a press release -- ran afoul of the law and was a misuse of authority.

"A secret agreement that permits a wealthy defendant to buy his way out of a criminal case isn't right," Steele said. "That isn't a commonwealth and prosecution stand."

Steele made the argument on Day 2 of a bid by Cosby's lawyers to get the sexual assault charges thrown out. They contend that then-District Attorney Bruce Castor's 2005 decision not to prosecute bars his successors from filing charges.

"In this case, the prosecution should be stopped in its tracks," Cosby lawyer Chris Tayback argued. "Really what we're talking about here is honouring a commitment."

Judge Steven O'Neill said he hoped to rule later in the day.

Cosby, 78, was arrested and charged in December with drugging and sexually violating former Temple University athletic department employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. The former TV star could get up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Castor found the case too weak to prosecute in 2005, but Steele's office reopened the investigation last summer, after the comedian's damaging, decade-old testimony from Constand's civil case was unsealed and dozens of other women came forward to accuse Cosby of assaulting them.

On Tuesday, Castor testified that as an elected representative of the state, he had the power to give Cosby a lifetime pass from prosecution.

He said he wanted the agreement to force Cosby to testify in Constand's civil case without invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The strategy worked: Cosby testified, and Constand settled for an undisclosed amount.

Cosby's lawyers said they never would have let him testify if they didn't believe criminal charges were off the table.

However, no such agreement was ever put in writing in a legal document. Because of that, Cosby's lawyers have relied heavily on Castor's interpretation of whether the deal blocks prosecutors from revisiting the case.

"There is no legal authority allowing a district attorney to act unilaterally and confer transactional immunity on a defendant," Steele said. "We have found nothing to support this sovereign edict theory that was presented yesterday."

The judge said he struggled to find similar cases where a suspect who was never charged received a promise that he'd never be prosecuted. Normally, immunity is granted after a suspect is charged because he or she can provide testimony or information to prosecutors.

Here, Castor said he was clearing the way for Cosby to testify in a lawsuit that, at the time of his decision, hadn't been filed yet.

"There is one thing we can all agree on," Tayback said. "There is no case quite like this."

Dozens of women have accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them since the 1960s, destroying his good-guy image as America's Dad. But the statute of limitations for prosecuting him has run out in nearly every instance. This is the only case in which he has been charged.

Castor defended his decision not to bring charges, citing among other things Constand's yearlong delay in reporting the allegations, her continued contact with Cosby, and suggestions that she and her mother might have tried to extort the TV star.

Associated Press writers Michael R. Sisak and Errin Haines Whack contributed to this report


Latest Entertainment News

  • Taylor Swift gets political with anti-gun message

    Entertainment CTV News
    Taylor Swift, the American pop star long accused of sidestepping politics to broaden her appeal, waded into the gun control debate Friday with a clear message: guns don’t belong in schools. Swift used her Instagram account Friday to throw her support behind March For Our Lives, an anti-gun protest taken up in the wake of the Parkland, Fla. Source
  • Mister Rogers honoured with postage stamp from the US Postal Service

    Entertainment CBC News
    It's a beautiful day to honour Mister Rogers with a postage stamp. The U.S. Postal Service has released a stamp featuring Fred Rogers, the gentle TV host who entertained and educated generations of preschoolers on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Source
  • Remai Modern defends artist whose Indigenous heritage has been questioned

    Entertainment CBC News
    The Remai Modern's director is defending the decision to feature a retrospective of Jimmie Durham's work. The world-renowned artist self-identifies as a Cherokee, but his heritage has been questioned. Much of Durham's work depicts Native American themes and uses materials often found in Indigenous work, like wood and bone, metals, and beads. Source
  • 15th defence lawyer in Suge Knight's murder case leaves

    Entertainment CTV News
    Attorney Matthew Fletcher, left, speaks for his client, Marion "Suge" Knight, right, in a court appearance for a bail review hearing in his murder case in Los Angeles in this file photo from March 20, 2015. Authorities say the high-profile Los Angeles attorney, Fletcher, has been arrested. Source
  • T-shirts, flowers showing support banned at Cosby retrial

    Entertainment CTV News
    PHILADELPHIA - People attending Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial won't be allowed in with T-shirts, flowers and other items that show support for one side or the other. The trial judge issued the ban Thursday. Source
  • Neil Young says 'Paradox' film has a message about a music crisis

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Beneath all the whimsy in Neil Young's trippy new dystopian Western "Paradox" lies a serious message about a "crisis" facing the music industry, says the Canadian rock great. Actress Daryl Hannah wrote and directed the surreal Netflix film, in which prospectors looking for old technology jam on guitars and ruminate on the importance of music and "the seeds of life" in the Rocky Mountains. Source
  • Fire breaks out on Edward Norton movie set in Harlem, 1 firefighter dies

    Entertainment CBC News
    A New York City firefighter died after he became separated from his unit as they battled a fierce, smoky blaze that broke out in the basement of a former Harlem jazz club being used as a film set. Source
  • Four-time Juno nominee Jessie Reyez on why she refuses to shun awards shows

    Entertainment CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- Jessie Reyez is a leading contender heading into this weekend's Junos, but the breakout singer says she's not letting the awards buzz go to her head. "The last thing I want to do is get too happy," the fiery 27-year-old musician said of her four nominations -- a tally matched only by rockers Arcade Fire this year. Source
  • Anton Yelchin's family settles lawsuit over death of Star Trek actor

    Entertainment CBC News
    The parents of Anton Yelchin have reached a settlement with the makers of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the SUV that crushed and killed the Star Trek actor in his driveway in 2016. The confidential settlement agreement between Victor and Irina Yelchin and Fiat Chrysler was filed this week in Los Angeles Superior Court. Source
  • Chris Evans may not return as Captain America

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- The actor who plays Captain America may be ready to hang up his shield. Chris Evans tells The New York Times he has no plans to return to the Marvel movie franchise after reshoots of the fourth "Avengers" movie later this year. Source