Cosby returns to court to hear sex assault evidence
Disgraced television legend Bill Cosby returned to court Tuesday to hear evidence that he sexually assaulted a woman after plying her with drugs at his Philadelphia home, a crime for which he could be jailed 10 years if put on trial and convicted.
The 78-year-old pioneering black comedian looked somber in a grey suit, white shirt and floral tie as he held onto the arm of a man in his entourage when walking into the courthouse in Norristown just outside Philadelphia.
More than 50 women have publicly alleged sexual abuse at the hands of the former megastar, who attained his greatest fame for his role as a lovable obstetrician and family man in the hit 1980s sitcom “The Cosby Show.”
But the allegations dating from 2004 and made by Andrea Constand, who worked for Temple University basketball team and who now lives in Canada, have amounted to the only criminal assault charge brought against him.
Montgomery County prosecutors sought to use Tuesday’s hearing to persuade Judge Elizabeth McHugh that there is enough evidence to put Cosby on trial.
The former star posted bail at $1 million in the case last December but has yet to enter a plea. Cosby has become a pariah since an avalanche of women accused him of feeding them pills and having sex with them over four decades.
Although Constand, 43, did not attend, District Attorney Kevin Steele called as a witness Katherine Hart, a detective who took her original deposition in January 2005 detailing the alleged assault.
Hart read out passages from the deposition in which Constand said Cosby plied her with pills and wine until she was unable to resist his advances at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.
After sitting her down on the couch, Constand claimed in the passages read in court, Cosby fondled her breasts, put his fingers in her vagina and put her hand on his erect penis.
– Cosby lawyers attack her credibility –
But Cosby’s legal team attacked Constand’s credibility.
Lawyer Brian McMonagle said Constand had chopped and changed certain passages and omitted from the final version having laid down on a bed next to the actor to relax and having visited his home for dinner after the alleged assault.
“We’re not at trial,” warned McHugh at one point to Cosby’s team. “Let’s try to keep it limited Mr McMonagle.”
Cosby has admitted giving Constand a pill but said all relations with her were consensual and accused her of lying about the assault.
The case was initially settled by a civil suit in 2006 and Cosby’s lawyers say reopening it has violated an agreement that he would never be prosecuted.
But prosecutors have justified revisiting the case, saying that new evidence came to light last July.
In his deposition in the suit, US media reported that Cosby admitted to having sex with at least two teenage girls and that “five or six” models were brought to his studio each week while he was filming one of his sitcoms.
Although more than 50 women have publicly accused Cosby of assault dating back four decades, the vast majority of their claims cannot be prosecuted because they have expired under statutes of limitations.
Cosby’s lawyers flatly deny any wrongdoing by the actor.