Bill Cosby, 78-year-old comedian faces an allegation of aggravated indecent assault against a woman at his mansion in 2004.
Bill Cosby will remain free on $1m bail after appearing in court charged with sexually assaulting a woman in Pennsylvania over a decade ago. It is the first time criminal charges have been brought against the US entertainer after more than 50 women came forward to claim he assaulted them.
The announcement sets the stage for a Hollywood celebrity trial which could potentially result in prison for the 78-year-old in the twilight of his life. Cosby is accused of aggravated indecent assault and has now been arraigned (formally charged).
He made a brief appearance before a judge in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, but entered no plea during the hearing. He will remain free on £674,000 bail pending trial. The Philadelphia-born comic, best known for playing a lovable family doctor in 1980s sitcom The Cosby Show, has previously denied all the allegations against him.
In bringing the case, Montgomery County district attorney Risa Vetri Ferman overruled her predecessor, who declined to charge Cosby in 2005 when Andrea Constand first told police he assaulted her at his mansion outside Philadelphia. Prosecutors say the TV star urged the former Temple University employee to take pills and drink wine in 2004.
Ms Constand, now 42, was “frozen, paralysed, unable to move,” Montgomery County District Attorney-elect Kevin Steele said. Cosby acknowledged under oath a decade ago that he had sexual contact with Ms Constand, but said it was consensual. Charges were announced just days before the 12-year statute of limitations for bringing charges was set to run out.
Prosecutors reopened the case over the summer after testimony was unsealed in Ms Constand’s related civil lawsuit against Cosby and dozens of other women came forward with similar accusations.
“Reopening this case was not a question. Rather, reopening this case was our duty as law enforcement officers,” Mr Steel said.He urged any other alleged victims to come forward as well.
Cosby is facing a long list of legal problems, including defamation and sex abuse lawsuits filed in Boston, Los Angeles and Pennsylvania. But as for criminal charges, many of the alleged assaults date back decades, and the statute of limitations has expired in nearly every case. Ms Constand, who now works as a massage therapist in her native Canada, is ready to face Cosby in court, her attorney Dolores Troiani said.
“She’s a very strong lady,” Ms Troiani said. “She’ll do whatever they request of her.”