Prosecutors in Pennsylvania have filed the first sexual assault charges against the US comedian Bill Cosby.
Cosby was charged on Wednesday with aggravated indecent assault over an alleged incident in 2004 involving a former local university employee.
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The 78-year-old has always denied the charges against him.
Yahoo News reports:
The case sets the stage for perhaps the biggest Hollywood celebrity trial of the mobile-all-the-time era and could send the 78-year-old Cosby to prison in the twilight of his life and barrier-breaking career.
Cosby was charged with aggravated indecent assault, punishable by five to 10 years behind bars and a $25,000 fine, and awaited an afternoon arraignment.
Prosecutors accused him of rendering former Temple University employee Andrea Constand unable to resist by plying her with pills and wine, then penetrating her digitally without her consent, when she was unconscious or unaware of what was happening.
She was “frozen, paralyzed, unable to move,” Montgomery County District Attorney-elect Kevin Steele said in announcing the charges. He said it is unclear what type of pills Constand was given, but he noted that Cosby has admitted giving Quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with.
Cosby acknowledged under oath a decade ago that he had sexual contact with Constand but said it was consensual. Calls to his attorneys were not immediately returned.
The charges came down just days before the 12-year statute of limitations for bringing charges was set to run out. The case represents an about-face by the district attorney’s office, which under a previous DA declined to charge Cosby in 2005 when Constand first told police that the comic violated her by putting his hands down her pants at his home in the Philadelphia suburb of Cheltenham.
Prosecutors reopened the case over the summer as damaging testimony was unsealed in Constand’s related civil lawsuit against Cosby and as dozens of other women came forward with similar accusations that made a mockery of his image as the wise and understanding Dr. Cliff Huxtable from TV’s “The Cosby Show.”
At that point, “reopening this case was not a question. Rather, reopening this case was our duty as law enforcement officers,” Steele said.
He urged any other alleged victims to come forward as well.