Bill Cosby has been booked on a sexual assault charge in suburban Philadelphia, marking the start of criminal proceedings and another milestone in his fall from grace after dozens of women have come forward to accuse the 78-year-old entertainer of drugging and raping them.
Cosby did not enter a plea as he was arraigned on three counts of aggravated indecent assault at a brief appearance, where bail was set at $1 million. After his booking, Cosby was released after arranging for a wire transfer of his bail money earlier in the day.
Cosby attorneys released a statement Wednesday afternoon calling the charge “unjustified” and politically motivated.
“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,” the statement said.
A haggard-looking Cosby arrived at the tiny courthouse in Elkins Park, Pa., around 2:30 p.m. ET. He shook his head “no” when pressed by reporters for comment as he walked into the building, led on either side by attorneys. He carried a cane and a leather satchel and wore a gray flecked hooded sweater and black sweatpants.
A crowd gathered outside the courthouse in anticipation of Cosby’s arrival. As he walked in, a woman could be heard shouting “you’re a monster” while a man’s voice was heard shouting supportive comments.
Cosby was charged Wednesday by Montgomery County district attorney’s office with a sexual assault on Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee, at Cosby’s suburban Philadelphia home in early 2004. If convicted, the felony charge is punishable by five to 10 years in jail and a $25,000 fine.
Cosby attorneys blamed local politics for authorities’ decision to file the charge in the 12-year-old case. Criticism of the prior regime’s handling of the Cosby-Constand incident in 2005 was a central part of Steele’s campaign for the post of district attorney.
“The charge by the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office came as no surprise, filed 12 years after the alleged incident and coming on the heels of a hotly contested election for this county’s DA during which this case was made the focal point,” Cosby attorneys said.
According to local reports, Cosby was forced to turn over his passport in the courtroom. He was told by Magisterial Judge Elizabeth McHugh not to contact Constand. A preliminary hearing was set for Jan. 14.
According to local reports, Cosby answered a loud “thank you” after McHugh told him “good luck” at the close of the arraignment.
Cosby kept his head down and made no comment to reporters as he was led in and out of the police station minutes after his arraignment. He then returned to his Cheltenham Township home, according to local broadcast reports.
His mug shot was later released by police officials.
|Cosby’s mugshot after being booked a the Elkins Park, Pa. courthouse.