A judge in Pennsylvania said that prosecutors can pursue criminal sexual assault charges against Bill Cosby, rejecting efforts by Cosby’s attorneys to dismiss the case at this point, the Associated Press reports.
Cosby’s attorneys sought to dismiss the case on the grounds that he made a deal with a previous district attorney that he would not be prosecuted in connection with Andrea Constand’s allegations of sexual assault in 2004. Cosby’s attorneys claimed then-District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. agreed that Cosby would never be prosecuted, and he would then give a deposition in her civil case.
Judge Steven O’Neill issued the ruling after a two-day hearing, in which current Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, who brought charges against Cosby in late December, said that a no-prosecution agreement would have overstepped the D.A.’s authority. Catsor testified during the hearing that he thought that the case was too weak.
O’Neill also rejected Cosby’s lawyers efforts to have Steele removed from the case, according to the AP.
Cosby has denied the allegations. His attorneys argued that a press release issued by Castor’s office in 2005 was evidence of an agreement not to prosecute him, and that his attorney at the time also was given oral assurances. Constand’s lawyer, Dolores Troiani, testified that she was not aware of any such agreement.
Cosby faces three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault. He is charged with drugging and then sexually abusing Constand, who was an employee of Temple University. Castor declined to prosecute in 2005, but Cosby’s deposition was unsealed last summer. That prompted Steele to file new charges.
This is the only case in which Cosby faces criminal charges. Dozens of women have come forward with claims of sexual assault, but they are beyond the statute of limitations.
In Los Angeles on Tuesday, another accuser of Cosby’s, Chloe Goins, dropped a civil lawsuit she filed in October, alleging Cosby sexually assaulted her at the Playboy mansion in 2008. Prosecutors in Los Angeles declined to press charges against Cosby, citing insufficient evidence. Cosby’s legal team said he was not even in town on the evening the alleged assault took place.