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Thursday, December 31, 2015

For the First Time Bill Cosby Has Been Criminally Charged with Sexual Assault

What differentiates this accusation of sexual assault from all the others?

After many years of allegations, some dating back to the 1960s, Bill Cosby is, for the first time, facing criminal charges of sexual assault by prosecutors in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. The comedian/actor has been charged with felony indecent assault for an event that took place in early 2004. The alleged victim, Andrea Constand, first accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her a year after the attack, but, at that time, the prosecutors declined to press charges.

Now, however, after a second investigation of available evidence and after more than 50 women have come forward with strikingly similar accusations, Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele is seeking justice for the victim, reminding the public that the incident is still within the state's 12-year statute of limitations. During the intervening years, Cosby has sued seven of his alleged victims for defamation of character, claiming they were accusing him either to obtain financial settlement or to enhance their flagging careers. During the intervening years, Constand herself filed a civil lawsuit against Cosby as well.

Constand's story has not changed during these long, painful years. She reports that Cosby, whom she considered a friend and mentor at the time, drugged and assaulted her when she was a Temple University employee. She states that, on the evening in question, he urged her to drink wine and take herbal pills to "relax" her which, once they took effect, rendered her completely helpless and unable to move. It was during this period, according to her testimony, that the defendant "touched her breasts and vaginal area, rubbed his penis against her hand and digitally penetrated her." These actions are the basis of the felony sexual assault charge.

Fortunately for Constand, and for the other alleged victims of Cosby seeking validation, Pennsylvania law allows prosecutors to introduce other allegations if such allegations help to establish a pattern of criminal behavior. According to legal experts, there is little chance that testimony of other alleged victims will be kept hidden from the public since this material is crucial to Constand's case. It is considered likely that the testimony heard during the upcoming trial will finish off what is left of Cosby's once stellar reputation.

In some ways, Cosby has been his own worst enemy. As a popular actor and comedian who broke racial barriers early in his career, he went on to become a kind of self-appointed statesmen for ethical behavior among black males. Giving clear testimony of his own hypocrisy, Cosby acknowledged in a 2005 civil deposition (in answer to Constand's civil suit) that he rather routinely gave Quaaludes to women with whom he wanted to have sex with. This corroborates the testimony of dozens of women who stated that Cosby had a large supply of pills (sometimes described as a briefcase full) in his possession most of the time to "relax" women he interacted with.
This past July, U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno, while unsealing records, indicated that Cosby, by "donn[ing] the mantle of public moralist... and volunteer[ing] his views on...childrearing, family life, education, and crime" Crosby has "voluntarily narrowed the zone of privacy that he is entitled to claim."

Sexual assault is a very serious offense. If you have been a victim of this traumatic crime, you should contact an attorney skilled in handling sexual assaults to ensure the best possible outcome of your case.

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