Bill Cosby was charged Wednesday with drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at his home 12 years ago — the first criminal charges brought against the comedian out of the torrent of allegations.
Cosby was charged with aggravated indecent assault and was to be arraigned in the afternoon. He was released after relinquishing his passport and providing a 1 Million dollar bail.
Prosecutors accused him of rendering former Temple University employee Andrea Constand unable to resist by plying her with pills and wine, then penetrating her digitally without her consent, when she was unconscious or unaware of what was happening.
Cosby acknowledged under oath a decade ago that he had sexual contact with Constand but said it was consensual. The charges came down 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”