Thursday 26 April 2018

Comedian Cosby appears before judge in first criminal sex abuse case against him

Bill Cosby (centre) arrives for a court appearance in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Photo: Mel Evans
Bill Cosby (centre) arrives for a court appearance in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Photo: Mel Evans
Andrea Constand, who accuses Bill Cosby of sexually assaulting her

Harriet Alexander in Philadelphia

Disgraced comedian Bill Cosby has appeared before a judge in Philadelphia in the first criminal case involving sexual abuse.

Cosby (78) has been accused by almost 60 women of sexual abuse between 1965 and 2008. But because the accusations are historic, many will never come to court.

Yesterday, however, the Philadelphia-born entertainer was forced to answer charges brought against him by Andrea Constand - who accuses him of abusing her in 2004.

Dressed in an olive-green jacket and white shirt, Cosby sat calmly before the packed courtroom.

He is hoping the judge will throw out the case because in 2005 he gave a written deposition relating to the accusations, on the proviso that he would not face further charges.

Bruce Castor, Montgomery County district attorney, decided at the time not to press charges in what he viewed as a "he said, she said" case. Mr Castor is expected to testify that Cosby should not be tried, and that the judge should throw it out.

Ms Constand, who is gay, was a basketball coach at Temple University when she met Cosby in around 2002. The pair became friends, and Cosby said he served as her mentor.

In the deposition, Cosby described at least two separate nights when they engaged in "sex play" at his Philadelphia home - the first time, after she had four drinks, and the second time, after he gave her unidentified pills.

Cosby said he never drank or took illegal drugs, although he acknowledged acquiring the sedative Quaaludes in the 1970s, to use on women he hoped to seduce.

In January 2004, Ms Constand, then 31, visited Cosby at his home and, he said, she sought his help.

"Andrea came to the house. We talked about Temple University. We talked about her position. And then I went upstairs and I got three pills ... because she was talking about stress.

"We sat for 15 or 20 minutes talking. I then said, 'Let's go into the living room.' I asked her to have a sit down on the sofa. We were still talking. But then we began to neck and we began to touch and we began to feel and kiss and kiss back."

Cosby described the "digital penetration" that followed as something of a favour, to help her unwind.

"I was hoping (it) had been a sort of a contribution to happiness, friendship, a moment that we shared," Cosby said.

Ms Constand later said she was too drugged to remember it clearly.

Cosby, in a taped phone call with Constand and her distraught mother a year later, confirmed that he gave her pills and described the sex act.

"Tell your mother you were awake. Tell your mother about the orgasm. Tell your mother how we talked," Cosby begged on the phone call.

Over the next few days, his agents and handlers made a flurry of calls to their family home to offer an educational fund or suggest they meet him at his next show in Miami.

The Constands instead gave the tape to police in Canada, who referred the case to Pennsylvania investigators.

Allegations about Cosby had been swirling since the early 2000s. He has always denied the charges.

Ms Constand's case is the first to come to trial.

Almost 60 women have, since November 2014, come forward to accuse the father of five of assault.

Judge Thomas O'Neill is expected to decide within a few days whether the trial should proceed. Kevin Steele, the newly elected DA who is pursuing the case, has said Cosby would need an immunity agreement in writing to get the case thrown out.

He has said he has no evidence one exists.

In a barrage of allegations that have destroyed Cosby's image, dozens of women have accused the former TV star of drugging and sexually assaulting them since the 1960s.

But this is the only case in which he has been charged. (© Daily Telegraph London)

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