Cosby faces 10 years in jail as trial goes to court
BILL COSBY, the embattled US comedian, has been charged with drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at his home in 2004 - and could face up to 10 years in jail if found guilty.
More than 50 women have already publicly claimed they were abused by the 78-year-old, but he has denied all allegations. It is the first time he has been criminally charged.
Prosecutors in Pennsylvania, where he lives, issued a warrant for Cosby's arrest and set the stage for one of the biggest Hollywood celebrity trials of recent years.
Cosby, who faces a charge of aggravated indecent assault, appeared in court last night and was given $1m bail. A hearing was set for January 14.
The alleged victim is Andrea Constand, who worked at the time for the women's basketball team at Temple University in Philadelphia - Cosby's alma mater. Prosecutor Kevin Steele said Miss Constand had considered Cosby her "mentor and friend".
In January 2004, she went to Cosby's nearby home seeking career advice and he urged her to take three blue pills, Mr Steele said.
She became incapacitated and Cosby led her to a sofa where he allegedly sexually assaulted her.
Miss Constand is gay and was in a relationship with a woman when the alleged attack took place. She reported the incident to police in 2005, but an investigation did not result in criminal charges. Miss Constand then sued Cosby in civil court and reached a confidential settlement the following year.
The comedian insisted in a deposition for the civil case that his relations with her had been consensual. He said: "I think Andrea is a liar, and I know she's a liar because I was there."
Cosby did not enter a plea yesterday and spoke only to say he understood the charges, and to ask for clarification on the terms of his $1m bail.
Cosby was then taken to the police station to be fingerprinted and photographed before being released.
Earlier this year, documents from the civil case were released and showed Cosby, who has been married for more than 50 years, admitting to a string of affairs and sexual encounters.
He also admitted that in the 1970s he obtained Quaaludes, a powerful prescription sedative now banned in the US, to give to women he wanted to have sex with.
Armed with that information, prosecutors decided to reopen the criminal investigation and dozens of other women came forward with similar allegations.
In the 1980s, Cosby became one of the most famous people in the United States through his role as the wholesome family patriarch Cliff Huxtable in 'The Cosby Show', earning the nickname 'America's Dad'.