Bill Cosby charged in Pennsylvania in 2004 sexual assault case

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Disgraced comedian Bill Cosby is free on bail on charges of aggravated indecent assault in connection with an alleged sexual assault that occurred at his Pennsylvania home more than a decade ago.

Kevin Steele, the first assistant district attorney in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, announced the charges at a press conference on Wednesday morning. He said Cosby had been charged with Aggravated Indecent Assault, which is a felony of the second degree. A judge set bail at $1 million at an arraignment hearing on Wednesday before Magisterial District Judge Elizabeth McHugh.

According to prosecutors, the woman – identified since as Temple University employee Andrea Constand – was a guest at Cosby’s house in Cheltenham Township on an evening in January 2004. During the course of the evening, Cosby provided Constand with wine, water and three blue pills, which she ingested at Cosby’s urging. Shortly after, Constand became incapacitated and was led to a couch by Cosby.

With Constand unable to move and responded to what was happening, Cosby allegedly positioned himself behind her and fondled her breasts, put his hands inside her pants, and penetrated her vagina with his fingers, according to the prosecutor’s office. During the alleged assault, Cosby also put the woman’s hand on his erect penis.

“The evidence shows Mr. Cosby established a relationship with the victim after meeting her through her work associated with Temple University’s Women’s Basketball Program,” Steele said. “Through the course of their association, the victim came to consider Mr. Cosby her mentor and her friend. On two other occasions, before the incident leading to the criminal charge in this case, Mr. Cosby made two sexual advances at her that were rejected.”

Within a few months of the alleged assault, Constand moved back to her native Canada where she lived with her mother, and did not disclose what had happened until January 2005. Constand and her mother then reported the incident to Canadian authorities, which in turn notified authorities in Pennsylvania. A subsequent investigation found insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges against Cosby.

“The prosecutor’s job is to follow the evidence wherever it takes us, and sometimes that means whenever it comes to light. When U.S. federal judge Eduardo Robreno unsealed legal filings that contained references to the civil deposition, and we learned about allegations from other victims under similar circumstances, reopening this case was not a question. Rather, reopening our case was our duty,” Steele said, referring to a lawsuit filed by Constand that was settled in 2006 for undisclosed terms.

Steele added: “Today, after examination of all the evidence, we are able to seek justice on behalf of the victim.”

Cosby did not immediately respond to the criminal charges, but the disgraced comedian is expected to make an initial court appearance later on Wednesday.

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