ELKINS PARK, Pa. (CBSNewYork/CBS News/AP) — Bill Cosby, the man once known as America’s dad, has now become an accused sexual predator.
Cosby, 78, was charged with sexual assault in Pennsylvania Wednesday, more than a decade after a former Temple University employee told police the comedian drugged and violated her at his home near Philadelphia.
The charge, issued by the Montgomery County, Pennsylvania District Attorney’s office, is a second-degree felony allegation. It stems from an alleged 2004 assault at his Pennsylvania home.
This was the first criminal charge against Cosby over his conduct with women, which has received new scrutiny in the past year.
WEB EXTRA: Read The Criminal Complaint Against Cosby
The comedian arrived for his arraignment around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday and declined to comment outside of the courthouse, 1010 WINS reported.
As CBS2’s Dana Tyler reported, Cosby was dressed in what we have come to know in one of his signature sweaters and carrying a walking stick as he arrived for the hearing. He seemingly needed help walking into the small courthouse in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania.
Reporters and photographers waited outside as he appeared for the hearing.
While there were no cameras allowed in court, a reporter who covered the hearing described how the judge insisted Cosby have no contact with the alleged victim.
“She said, ‘Do you understand?’ and Bill Cosby, in court, very loudly, said, ‘Yes!’ with a big smile on his face, just as though he was very comfortable – that it was an everyday thing,” said CNN reporter Jean Casarez.
Cosby will remain free on $1 million bail and was ordered to surrender his passport. He is due back in court on Jan. 14.
Kevin Steele, Montgomery County’s first assistant district attorney, said alleged victim Andrea Constand, who worked for the Temple women’s basketball team and considered Cosby a mentor, rejected his sexual advances several times. Then while at his $2 million home outside Philadelphia, the comedian urged her to take pills along with wine, “the effect of which rendered her unable to move or respond to his advances, and he committed aggravated indecent assault upon her,” Steele said.
According to the criminal complaint, the pills left the woman “frozen” and “paralyzed.” She claims she woke up at 4 a.m. to find Cosby in his bathrobe and her clothing disheveled.
Steele said recently released excerpts from Cosby’s deposition in a civil lawsuit led to the renewed investigation. Steele said that after seeing the deposition material “reopening this case was not a question, rather it was our duty.”
A 2005 deposition was made public in July in which Cosby admitted he obtained Quaaludes with the intent of giving them to young women he wanted to have sex with.
Steele announced the charges just days before the statute of limitations would have run out, 1010 WINS’ Steve Kastenbaum reported.
At least 50 women have made similar allegations about Cosby.
“There are other alleged victims, and we are examining evidence in that,” Steele said.
Cosby’s lawyer issued a statement late Wednesday afternoon, calling the charges “unjustified.”
“The charge by the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office came as no surprise, filed 12 years after the alleged incident and coming on the heels of a hotly contested election for this county’s DA during which this case was made the focal point,” said the statement from the Washington, D.C.-based law office The Pressley Firm. “Make no mistake, we intend to mount a vigorous defense against this unjustified charge and we expect that Mr. Cosby will be exonerated by a court of law.”
Cosby previously said under oath that he had consensual sexual contact with Constand.
The accuser’s lawyer released a statement thanking prosecutors and police “for the consideration and courtesy they have shown” the woman “during this difficult time.”
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, Cosby’s star was placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1977, years before his number one-rated sitcom established him as an icon of American pop culture.
“The world said he was America’s Father, you know?” one man said. “Now all of this stuff is coming out. It’s sad. It’s just a sad day for America.”
But when it comes to the criminal charge, attorney Gloria Allred said it is about time.
“For many of my 29 clients who allege that they are victims of Bill Cosby, seeing him criminally charged and having to face a trial is the best Christmas present that they have ever received,” Allred said.
Former Playboy playmate Victoria Valentino spoke about the charges Wednesday night. She said Cosby drugged and raped her in 1970.
Valentino said seeing Cosby in court left her feeling “vindicated, validated, and just elated. I can’t find a better word for it.”
It was a stunning fall for a man who broke barriers in Hollywood, became Madison Avenue’s favorite pitchman, and used his position to lecture on family values, according to writer Renee Graham.
“He was this great husband. He was this wonderful family man. You have this man who represents this way to live and how to be a good citizen of the world, and meanwhile, you now have all these allegations,” Graham said. “When you have someone who’s that high, the fall is going to be, you know, that much more devastating.”
The charges are a reversal of a decision by a previous district attorney, Bruce Castor, who declined to charge Cosby in 2005. Castor said at the time that both the TV star and his accuser could be portrayed in “a less than flattering light.”
This year, Castor said the allegations in Constand’s lawsuit were more serious than the account she gave police, and if that information had been known at the time, “we might have been able to make a case.”
Castor tried to make a comeback as district attorney in the November election, but lost.
After the criminal case went nowhere, Constand settled her lawsuit against Cosby in 2006 on confidential terms.
Her allegations and similar ones from other women in the years that followed did not receive wide attention but exploded into view in late 2014, first online, then in the wider media, after comedian Hannibal Buress mocked the moralizing Cosby as a hypocrite and called him a rapist during a standup routine.
That opened the floodgates on even more allegations.
Women mostly from the world of modeling, acting or other entertainment fields came forward and described being offered a drink by Cosby and waking up to find they had apparently been sexually assaulted. Cosby, through his representatives, accused some of the women of trying to extract money from him or get ahead in show business.
Earlier this year, The Associated Press persuaded a judge to unseal documents from the Constand lawsuit, and they showed the long-married Cosby acknowledging a string of affairs and sexual encounters.
Cosby testified that he obtained Quaaludes in the 1970s to give to women. He denied giving women drugs without their knowledge and said he had used the now-banned sedative “the same as a person would say, ‘Have a drink.'”
In the deposition, Cosby said he fondled Constand that night, taking her silence as a green light. Constand maintains she was semi-conscious after he gave her pills he said would relax her.
“I don’t hear her say anything. And I don’t feel her say anything. And so I continue and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped,” Cosby testified.
He said Constand was not upset when she left that night. She went to police a year later.
Her lawyer has said Constand is gay and was dating a woman around the time she met Cosby in the early 2000s.
The allegations against Cosby led to the cancellation of the comedian’s projects at NBC and Netflix as well as some stand-up performances. In July, Fordham University rescinded an honorary degree it had given to Cosby in 2001.
The charges and arrest warrant came as the statute of limitations to charge Cosby in this case was set to run out in January. He faces five to 10 years behind bars and a $25,000 fine.
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