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Bill Cosby ordered to stand trial in sexual assault case

The comedian faces up to 10 years in prison.

Justin Carissimo
New York
Tuesday 24 May 2016 18:09 BST
Bill Cosby arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
Bill Cosby arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania. (James Robinson/

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Louise Thomas

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Bill Cosby has been ordered to stand trial over claims that he drugged and sexually assaulted a woman at his home more than 10 years ago.

“This case will move forward,” Montgomery County Pennsylvania Judge Elizabeth McHugh told the courtroom on Tuesday. Cosby, who sat flanked by his legal team, thanked the judge, who wished him luck after the nearly four-hour long hearing.

The 78-year-old comedian has been criminally charged with assaulting Andrea Constand, a former employee at his alma mater Temple University, in 2005. He was arrested in December 2015, ten years after the assault complaint when a deposition in the lawsuit became public.

Constand declined to take the witness stand during the preliminary hearing, which is common procedure in the preliminary stage. Still, Judge McHugh told the district attorney it’s a “risky move” not to place the victim on the stand, but allowed the decision based on recent a Superior Court ruling.

The detective took the stand and read Constand’s statement to police, saying she felt dizzy and delusional after Cosby gave her pills and alcohol: "I was lying on my left side with my knees bent. That was the last thing I remember.”

Constand, a former Temple University basketball coach,was the first woman to publicly accuse Cosby of sexual assault. More than 40 women have came forward accusing the comedian of sexually assaulting them in incidents dating back to the 1960s.

Defense attorney Brian McMonagle argued that prosecutors were relying on a statement made 10 years ago. "You're basically told here to tell us what somebody told another detective 11 years ago about what happened 12 years ago?" McMonagle asked the prosecution.

“Yes,” Hart replied.

Cosby faces three felony charges of aggravated indecent assault. If convicted, he’ll face five to 10 years in prison with a $25,000 fine.

Gloria Allred, a lawyer representing other women accusing Cosby of assault, told reporters that the judge will decide whether others alleged victims can testify during the trial.

“This is just my educated guess, but I don’t think Mr Cosby was trilled that his own interview with the police was admitted into evidence because some of what he said could be quite damning for Mr Cosby,” Allred told reporters outside the courthouse. “Having said that, the court having reviewed all of the evidence, found that there was sufficient evidence to require the defendant, Mr Cosby to stand trial.”

The night before the trial, The Associated Press released a bombshell deposition in which Cosby admitted to having sexual relations with teenagers and paying off former lovers to conceal them from his wife.

On Tuesday night, Monique Pressley, Cosby's principal leagal counsel, released a statement calling the evidence presented in the case "weak, inconsistent and incredible."

"Though the Court decided the government reached the low threshold required for today's preliminary hearing," the statement read. "We have no doubt this case ultimately will be decided in Mr Cosby's favor."

Cosby is due back in court for an arraignment on July 20.

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