AP Photo/Mel Evans
AP Photo/Mel Evans
After a year of new allegations issued against him from dozens of women, actor and comedian Bill Cosby finally learned if he will face a criminal trial for charges of aggravated indecent assault.
Following two days of testimony, a Montgomery County Judge has determined that Cosby will go to trial after questions were raised regarding an alleged deal struck more than 10 years ago to not prosecute the actor.
According to NBC News, the judge found there was no agreement not to prosecute the Hollywood star and the criminal case against him will continue. The case now moves to a preliminary hearing to see if prosecutors have enough evidence to prove Cosby assaulted the accuser at his Philadelphia-area home in 2004. Cosby and his team have yet to comment on today's ruling.
The 78-year-old was first escorted into the courthouse in Montgomery County, Pa., on Tuesday morning around 9 a.m. with a solemn disposition —a physical reflection of the serious charges set forth against him. Though accusations have been made against Cosby for many months, this is the first time criminal charges have been raised against him in light of recent claims.
In late December, he was charged with the second degree felony after new evidence was presented over the summer in regard to a previously-settled 2005 civil suit. In the former case, Cosby was accused of drugging and sexually violating former Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his Philadelphia-area home in 2004. The district attorney at the time, Bruce Castor, did not pursue criminal charges against Cosby and instead, addressed the claims in a settled civil suit finalized in 2006, though the monetary settlement had not been disclosed.
In July, 16 court documents containing Cosby's deposition were unsealed, holding significant revelations. The actor admitted to having it in his mind to use Quaaludes to have sex with young women and that he had given Constand three half-pills of Benadryl.
Courtesy: Montgomery County DA
Informed of his new charges in late December, the Golden Globe winner was called before the judge today to determine whether there had been an official "deal" struck in 2005 to prevent him from criminal prosecution and, if so, if such an agreement was enforceable in court today.
Cosby's defense team alleged that Castor made the deal with the team more than a decade ago, according to NBC News. Castor was called in for questioning at Tuesday's hearing to explain his reasoning for not pursuing a criminal case against the star.
Castor said in court that "there were a number of inconsistencies [in Constand's multiple statements] that caused me concern," knowing that inconsistencies could hurt her credibility in a criminal trial, as reported by NBC News.
He said he confirmed that Constad and Cosby had contacted each other, both over the phone and in person. As well, Castor recalled a conversation he had with Cosby's lawyer, who was suspicious that there were wiretaps being conducted not by authorities.
Castor discussed two sets of telephone records in court that had been located by the police, one which he claimed would show that Constad and her mother were trying to get money from Cosby in return for her not filing charges. Since Castor believed the taps were not conducted by police, he thought Constad and her mother potentially committed a crime for the taps and it would have broken Pennsylvania rules to use the taps in court.
Victoria Will/Invision/AP, File
"I decided that there was insufficient credible evidence on which any charge related to Mr. Cosby as alleged by Ms. Constad could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt," Castor concluded in court, citing "the fact that Ms. Constad gave multiple statements that had inconsistencies in them and behavior that I thought was inconsistent with someone who had been sexually assaulted."
Castor also questioned why Constad had gone to a civil attorney before going to the police, a point that he thought would also bruise her credibility.
"I did not believe it was just to go forward with a criminal prosecution but I wanted there to be some determination of justice," he added. "I decided that we would not prosecute Mr. Cosby... that that would set off a chain of events that would gain some justice for Ms. Constad."
That justice, according to Castor, would result from stripping Cosby of being able to plead the fifth.
"In my legal opinion that meant that Mr. Cosby would not be allowed to take the 5th Amendment," he said in court. If he had been able to make use of that plea, Cosby could not have been mandated to give a deposition.
"Mr. Cosby was not getting prosecuted, at all, ever, as far as I was concerned," Castor said. "I thought at the time and still think that making Mr. Cosby pay money to Ms. Constad would be the best stage I could set."
"The charge by the Montgomery County District Attorney's office came as no surprise, filed 12 years after the alleged incident and coming on the heels of a hotly contested election for this county's DA during which this case was made the focal point," Cosby's lawyers said in a statement after his arraignment. "Make no mistake, we intend to mount a vigorous defense against this unjustified charge and we expect that Mr. Cosby will be exonerated by a court of law."
The Cosby Show actor faces five to 10 years behind bars and a $25,000 fine if found guilty of his charges. Since arraignment, he remains free on $1 million bail and has not entered a plea.