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Cosby to Stand Trial for Sexual Assault

Comedian Bill Cosby has been ordered to stand trial for sexual assault.

Judge Elizabeth McHugh made the ruling after a Tuesday morning preliminary hearing, saying prosecutors had enough evidence to bring him to trial after they presented statements given more than a decade ago to authorities by both Cosby and his accusor Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee who said he sexually assaulted her. 

The lone criminal case is among dozens of accusations that he molested women over the span of several years. Cosby faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of violating the accuser while she was unconscious, impaired and could not give consent.

The hearing was not an in person confrontation between Cosby and Constand, who said the 78-year-old TV star violated her at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004. She was not in the courtroom, and the judge ruled that she would not have to testify.  Cosby’s defense lawyers argued unsuccessfully that her non-appearance violated his right to face his accuser.

But a Pennsylvania superior court ruling allows prosecutors to use statements from the police rather than direct testimony as their singular piece of evidence in preliminary hearings.

Constand told police in 2005 that the comedian penetrated her with his fingers after giving her pills that made her legs “rubbery” and “like jelly.” ”Everything was blurry and dizzy. I felt nauseous,” she said.  “I told him, ‘I can’t even talk, Mr. Cosby.’ I started to panic,” she told police.

In his own 2005 statement to police, excerpts of which were also read in court, Cosby portrayed it as consensual sexual activity, saying Constand never said “no” as he put his hand down her pants. Cosby said he and Constand had had other “petting” sessions before. He also told police the pills were over-the-counter Benadryl that he takes to help him sleep. He said he gave Constand one and a half pills and she did not ask what they were.

Cosby has been free on $1 million bail since his Dec. 30 arrest. He is due back for arraignment on July 20.

Meanwhile his lawyers are trying to get the case thrown out, arguing that a previous prosecutor a decade ago made a binding promise that the comic would never be charged. On Monday, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court rejected a request to delay the preliminary hearing while Cosby pursues a dismissal.

The case is the only criminal charge facing Cosby, but he is also contending with two sexual assault lawsuits, two disputes over whether his homeowner policies should cover his legal expenses, and a dozen defamation claims brought by women who came forward too late to sue over sexual assault but say they were smeared by Cosby or his representatives. 


Bill Cosby arrives for a preliminary hearing on at the Montgomery County Courthouse, in Norristown, Pa. AP/James Robinson/PennLive.com