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Cosby lawyer says sex assault charge unjustified

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Bill Cosby was charged Wednesday with drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in January 2004. They are the first criminal charges brought against the comedian out of the torrent of allegations that destroyed his good-guy image as Americas Dad.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Bill Cosby arrives at court to face a felony charge of aggravated indecent assault Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in Elkins Park, Pa. Cosby was charged Wednesday with drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at his home 12 years ago.

ELKINS PARK, Pa. >> Bill Cosby was arrested in the twilight of his life and career today and charged with a decade-old sex crime after a barrage of accusations from dozens of women made a mockery of his image as TV’s wise and understanding Dr. Cliff Huxtable.

Using a cane, the 78-year-old comedian walked slowly and unsteadily into court on the arms of his lawyers to answer charges he drugged and sexually assaulted a woman less than half his age at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He had no comment as he was released on $1 million bail.

The case marks the first time Cosby has been charged with sexual misconduct despite years of lurid allegations, and sets the stage for perhaps the biggest Hollywood celebrity trial of the mobile-news era.

“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,” his attorney Monique Pressley said in a statement.

The former “Cosby Show” star and celebrated breaker of TV’s racial barriers was charged with aggravated indecent assault, punishable by five to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. He did not have to enter a plea.

The decision to prosecute him came down just days before Pennsylvania’s 12-year statute of limitations for bringing charges was set to run out.

Prosecutors accused Cosby of plying former Temple University employee Andrea Constand with pills and wine, then penetrating her with his fingers without her consent while she was drifting in and out of consciousness, unable to resist or cry out.

She was “frozen, paralyzed, unable to move,” Montgomery County District Attorney-elect Kevin Steele said. In court papers, prosecutors said the drugs were the cold medicine Benadryl or some other, unidentified substance. Steele noted that Cosby has admitted giving quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with.

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

Wearing a black-and-white hooded sweater into court, Cosby seemed to have trouble seeing the paperwork and finding the place to sign, and his lawyers helped him hold the pen. But he seemed at ease, laughing and chatting with his attorneys.

When the judge said, “Good luck, Mr. Cosby,” he shouted: “Thank you!”

The case represents an about-face by the district attorney’s office, which under a previous DA declined to charge Cosby in 2005 when Constand first told police that the comic put his hands down her pants at his home in Cheltenham.

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 destroyed his good-guy image as America’s Dad.

“Reopening this case was not a question. Rather, reopening this case was our duty as law enforcement officers,” said Steele, a top deputy in the DA’s office who will take over in January.

In court papers, prosecutors said there are probably other women who were similarly drugged and violated by Cosby. Steele urged them to come forward.

Constand, now 42, lives in Toronto and works as a massage therapist. Her attorney, Dolores Troiani, welcomed the charges.

“She feels that they believe her, and to any victim, that is foremost in your mind: Are people going to believe me,” Troiani said. The attorney added: “Naturally it is troubling that it took until the eleventh hour for this day to arrive. She is hopeful that her patience has encouraged other victims to come forward.”

The case adds to the towering list of legal problems facing the TV star, including defamation and sexual-abuse lawsuits filed in Massachusetts, Los Angeles and Pennsylvania.

The statute of limitations for bringing criminal charges against him in other places has run out in nearly every case. One exception: a 2008 case still under investigation in Los Angeles.

A key question if the Pennsylvania case goes to trial is whether the judge will allow supporting testimony from some of those other accusers to show a pattern of “bad acts.” The judge could decide such testimony would be unfair to Cosby.

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 black family headed by two 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 the comedian and his accuser could be portrayed in “a less than flattering light.” Constand eventually settled a 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 at the time but exploded into view in late 2014, first online, then in the wider media, after comedian Hannibal Buress mocked the moralizing Cosby as a hypocrite and called him a rapist during a standup routine.

That opened the floodgates to even more allegations.

The women were mostly from the world of modeling, acting or other entertainment fields, and Cosby or his representatives denied their allegations, accusing some of them 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, who makes him mostly in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, testified that he obtained quaaludes in the 1970s to give to women “the same as a person would say, ‘Have a drink.’” He denied giving women drugs without their knowledge.

In his deposition, Cosby said he gave Constand three half-pills of Benadryl for stress without telling her what they were. He said he groped Constand, taking her silence as a green light.

“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.

Prosecutors said Cosby used wine and drugs to render her incapable of resistance after “the much younger, athletic” Constand blocked two previous sexual advances.

Constand’s 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.

Cosby’s fall has been especially painful to many blacks who regarded his commercial and cultural success with great pride.

“There is a fatal difference now between Cliff Huxtable and Bill Cosby that can never be overcome,” said author and professor Michael Eric Dyson, who wrote a book on Cosby a decade ago. “It does add a creepy subtext and a shadow of tremendous moral weight that will inevitably be brought up each time his name is evoked.”

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    • No one would disagree with your statement in general terms, HOWEVER as it pertains to the Cosby case where so many different woman have made public and sworn statements, stating Cosby drugged then se xually assaulted them, your statement would NOT be relevant in that context. On top of which when the judge unsealed testimony by Cosby in one court case admitting at times to give women drugs in their drinks but saying it was “consensual” further reflects that accusation that Cosby is a serial ra pist has truth in the matter.

  • Two of the most disappointing celebrities in my book are Bill Cosby and Lance Armstrong. Two people that were very positive influences in today’s world, or could have been……

        • Since you’re splitting hairs lets add GQ’s WORST PEOPLE of 2015 list..Hillary at #5…above Bill & Jared Fogle. LOL

        • lol, What is there that is so bad about sweet Hillary? That article sure didn’t list much in terms of specifics. Hopefully she will lose to Sanders but the fact remains she is a lot better than any republican running.

        • hawaiikone, Shame you don’t see the difference between simple cheating and the personal violation of an individual. Not defending Armstrong just saying calling him evil is a bit much. Sadly there are many who cheat but hopefully there are relatively few who did what Bill Cosby has done.

        • Of course Armstrong imposed himself on his fellow team mates. From and interview with Oprah…”When Oprah asked Lance if he was a bully, he candidly revealed that he was — and as the captain of his US Postal and Discovery Channel cycling teams, he expected everyone to comply with his rules. And if riders didn’t agree with what he said, he viewed it as a betrayal — and he would get angry.”
          However, I believe taking all the joy juice and drugs in the world won’t make you a better athlete. You still need talent, skill, drive and determination.
          Here’s the link:
          http://hollywoodlife.com/2013/01/17/lance-armstrong-interview-oprah-drugs-tours-de-france-titles/

        • Armstrong sure did impose himself on others, taking rightful achievements from other law-abiding athletes.

        • I wish all you political hacks would go somewhere else. We aren’t talking about the Presidential race, Democrats vs. Republicans, or other inane subjects. Leave us alone!

        • I love cycling and used to admire Lance…..I also felt betrayed that he was a liar and a cheater.

        • First of all, the innocent until proven guilty thing only applies regarding records of conviction, and never to private citizens. Never. Plus, in every single criminal trial ever held, the prosecution says the defendant is guilty. That’s what they do. You constantly write in error about what the Constitution says. Second, Mr. Cosby admitted, under oath during a deposition, that he had sexually assaulted women. He thought the statute of limitations was passed. Surprise!

        • So, what your saying is that if I’m arrested and eventually tried for a crime, as a “private citizen” i’m not considered innocent until a jury says otherwise? I’d expect the prosecution to argue my guilt, after all it is their job, but they have to prove it to a jury. And, from what I’ve read, Cosby, through his lawyers, has admitted to providing drugs for sex, but with the consent of those involved. Did I miss something? Don’t mistake my opinion as supportive of Cosby, as he seems obviously guilty, but I believe in him having his day in court. just as those accusing him should have theirs.

        • hawaiikone – No. Cosby has a right to his day in court. The “you can’t say that someone is guilty until proven so” issue only applies to the government – not to private citizens. A private citizen can decide and say / write that someone is guilty of a crime. Only the government needs to prove that. Mr. Cosby admitted in sworn testimony that he provided drugs and that the women he had sex with were impaired by the drugs. Impaired people cannot provide consent for sex in Pennsylvania.

      • Yes. We are entitled to our opinion with respect to his innocence or guilt. With respect to Cosby, I happen to agree with yours. My response was simply a reminder that the actual determination remains the responsibility of our legal system.

  • Pennsylvania needs to understand how long this trial could drag out and if convicted, the state will now be fully responsible for Cosby’s elderly care for the rest of this life.

    Before you whine, do the research on how much states are now required to pay by law, to provide elderly care until the final days of prisoners convicted for life. Prisons now have medical geriatric wards, hospices. The cost is eating the states alive.

      • DowntownGreen – So to be clear, you are having a major problem understanding a simple statement, no clue as to what is going on in the area I posted. Did you attend the Nei’s failing educational system.

        Let me try again in simple words I hope you can understand. All I said was incarcerating (wait, too large a word for you) Holding elderly criminals in jail is very expensive to the states. Now do you understand? Sad.

        Google “Elderly criminals costing states” and you will see all the links covering this growing expense to states and their taxpayers.

        • Despite you typical nasty snark, the question related to your lack of clarity in critical thinking. You were relating the cost and appropriateness of incarcerating an older criminal to a matter of right and wrong. Google “ethics” and don’t bother getting back to me.

      • klastri – It would be refreshing if you could read and understand simple English words. Stumbling through, making up your own incorrect answer. Not even close. Really sad you so far off track. Typical for a rookie poster.

        • I’m going to take a wild guess that you were not on your university debating team. Am I right?

        • Comprehension is not one of Klastri (kurt) strong points. Spinning the narrative to his point of view is his strong point…he loves to put words into other peoples mouths.

  • Cosby fired back with a “defamation” counter-suit to the 7 other women that filed charges against him.

    With a $400million net worth Cosby can delay this till he leaves this earth.

  • If Cosby was a sex perv, he would have also been charged doing the same with small children. Remember all them kids trusting him in that Jello TV ad? Such a sweet hearted man that is able garner trust. Wouldn’t hurt a fly.

  • BC, BC, Bill Cosby’s initials. Where have I seen those initials before in a sex assault case or cases? Oh, yes. I remember. BC are the initials of Bill Clinton who also was accused of sexually assaulting several women. When will the criminal charges be filed against him? I know liberals will rise to Clinton’s defense by saying Clinton did it about ten times only whereas more than sixty women have made the charge against Cosby, but you do not exonerate people accused of any crime by score cards. It should be done in a court of law. Cosby most likely will have his day in court, but I doubt Bill Clinton will ever see the inside of a courtroom as a defendant.

        • What exactly are you wondering about? He already admitted under oath to providing drugs to women that made them legally and actually incapable of offering consent. Can you simply not read?

        • Kalastri, I can read, can you? Cosby did admit to obtaining Quaaludes to give to an unspecified number of women who he claims took them knowing what they were. The Constand case is the only one in which Cosby admitted to giving her Benadryl without her knowledge. However, there are now dozens of women coming forward to say they were raped or sexually assaulted by Cosby. Human nature and a little bit of worldly experience should tell you that many of them willing and unhesitatingly engaged in sex with Cosby, some of them in the belief it would enhance their acting careers. Such events are not unknown in the film industry. I believe the motive of many who are now making allegations against Cosby is MONEY.

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