Bill Cosby to Stand Trial for Sexual Assault
After months of legal wrangling, a Pennsylvania judge on Tuesday overruled Bill Cobsy's attempts to dismiss a sexual assault case against him, ordering the comedian to stand trial on the charges.
Cosby faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the charge that he sexually assaulted accuser Andrea Constand at his Philadelphia home back in 2004. The comedian has maintained that the encounter was consensual, and that he merely gave Constand some Benadryl; Constand claims that she was drugged with mysterious blue pills, was in and out of consciousness while Cosby fondled her, and did not give her consent to the encounter.
Constand's allegations resurfaced in recent years as dozens of women -- more than 50 so far -- have publicly come forward with similar claims against the comedian, many of them saying they were also drugged and assaulted or raped by the comedian. Cosby has continually denied all allegations against him.
Reports of those allegations reached a fever pitch last fall, bringing additional attention to Constand's case, which she originally reported back in 2005. At the time, prosecutors declined to pursue criminal charges against Cosby, though he did submit to a deposition which was later used as evidence in a civil suit that Constand filed against him in 2005. That dispute was settled in 2006.
Portions of Cosby's deposition were unsealed in July 2015, prompting Philadelphia prosecutors to reexamine Constand's original complaint, and three counts of aggravated assault were filed against the comedian in December. Since then, Cosby's legal team has fought to have those charges thrown out, leading to Tuesday's hearing and the judge's ruling. It is the lone criminal trial to result from the accusations, though Cosby is currently facing several civil suits in other states.
As recently as 2014, Cosby had a pilot in development at NBC, and was working on a comedy special for Netflix. Both projects were eventually canceled as more allegations against him resurfaced, spearheaded in part by viral remarks made by comedian Hannibal Buress, who accused Cosby of raping women. Accusers, some whose alleged assaults date back several decades, have questioned why it took so long before they were taken seriously. Some supporters, meanwhile, have continued to stand by the comedian, with many attending his last comedy tour, "Far From Finished," which wrapped in May 2015. (Some dates were canceled, however, and many were the subject of protests.)
Cosby's arraignment was originally scheduled for July 20, though he has waived his right to appear at that proceeding. No word yet on when his trial may start.
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