Judge Allows Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Case to Proceed to Trial

Bill Cosby Rape Hearing
James Robinson/PennLive.com via AP

Bill Cosby will be tried on all charges of sexual assault, as the entertainer faces his first criminal case stemming from a 2004 incident, a judge ruled on Tuesday.

Cosby was in court for a preliminary hearing where the judge, Elizabeth McHugh, weighed the evidence to decide whether there was enough to proceed to a trial.

“We are here to serve justice,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele told reporters just after the judge ruled. He noted that only limited evidence was presented, as the judge weighs a lower standard to proceed than jurors will at trial. Still, Steele said that the hearing showed Cosby’s “admission to much of the crime.”

“There was no evidence of a crime here,” Cosby’s attorney Brian McMonagle said, according to CNN. “And the inconsistencies that plagued this investigation from the beginning continue to plague it now. This case should end immediately.”

Cosby’s accuser Andrea Constand, a former employee of Temple University, did not testify at the preliminary hearing, but prosecutors read a police report statement in which she told authorities in 2005 that he gave her pills that left her dizzy and she “started to panic.”

“I told him, ‘I can’t even talk, Mr. Cosby,’ I started to panic,” she told police that year, according to the Associated Press. She said that the entertainer penetrated her with his fingers after he gave her the pills in 2004, according to the AP.

“Everything was blurry and dizzy. I felt nauseous,” she said.

At the hearing, McMonagle tried to ask questions about Constand’s statement and her credibility, according to USA Today. Prosecutors objected to his questions, but he said, “I have a right to ask about this statement that they introduced.”

Cosby has contended that the sexual encounter was consensual. His attorneys have been raising questions about why she continued to see him after the incident and even went to one of his comedy shows. They also asked about changes she made to her statement and inconsistencies with those she made elsewhere. Also read were excerpts of Cosby’s interview with police, in which he said that he had given her Benadryl, but she did not ask what they were, according to ABC News.

Steele declined to get into the specifics of the case, but he suggested that a focus of the case will be on whether Constand was able to give consent. The combination of the substance that Cosby gave her, along with wine, “was intoxicating to her. She was unable to give consent.”

Cosby was charged on Dec. 30 with three counts of aggravated indecent assault, second-degree felonies, each with a minimum of five years in prison. Cosby has not yet been arraigned, as his attorneys spent the last several months trying to get the charges dismissed.

Constand had filed a civil suit against Cosby that was settled in 2006, and the district attorney at the time, Bruce Castor, declined to file charges, citing insufficient evidence. But prosecutors filed charges after a deposition from Cosby was unsealed last summer.

Cosby entered the hearing at the Norristown, Pa., courthouse on Tuesday morning, holding on to the arm of an aide, at one point waving and even smiling. According to reporters, he showed little emotion when the judge informed him that the case would proceed.

More than 50 women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct. Cosby has denied the claims of assault.

Gloria Allred, who is representing some of the women, but not Constand, was at the hearing on Tuesday and told reporters that the judge made the “right decision.” She said that Cosby’s interview with police in 2005 was “very damaging to him,” and downplayed changes that Constand had made to her statement.

“Often if [accusers] are being truthful, they will want to look at what is being said and make sure it is accurate,” she said.