Disgraced comedy legend Bill Cosby was charged with aggravated indecent assault on Wednesday stemming from allegations made by a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand. Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman announced the charge, a first-degree felony, at a press conference on Wednesday morning.The charge is the first criminal complaint Cosby, 78, is facing, though scores of women have come forward in recent years and accused the comedian of rape or sexual assault across several decades. Cosby made a court appearance Wednesday afternoon after being arrested, finger-printed and having a mug shot taken. He was swarmed by media as he made his way into a court house in Elkins Park, Pa., but neither he nor his attorneys had any comment for reporters.
Many of the claims leveled by women follow a similar pattern: Cosby first drugged them, and while they were incapacitated, he sexually violated them. That is the basis of the claim for which he was charged on Wednesday. Constand said that in 2004, Cosby drugged her inside his home in a Philadelphia suburb and then sexually attacked her. Prosecutors say Cosby used some concoction of Benadryl, wine and other unidentified pills to incapacitate Constand. Constand was “frozen, paralyzed, unable to move,” Montgomery County District Attorney-elect Kevin Steele said, adding that there was no way she could give consent in that condition. Constand was unable call for help or otherwise fend off his advances, prosecutors said, and Cosby then penetrated her with his fingers without her consent, as she drifted in and out of consciousness.
Cosby has maintained his innocence despite allegations from dozens of women. His lawyers had not immediately commented on the criminal charge after the announcement by the district attorney’s office. Constand’s legal team issued a statement following the announcement that “expressed our appreciation” to the district attorney’s office and the local police department for continuing to pursue the case. The charges were filed as the 12-year statute of limitations was set to expire. Cosby faces five to 10 years behind bars and a $25,000 fine. He did not enter a plea and was released on $1 million bail. He’s due back in court on January 14.
Cosby had little to say inside the courtroom. As the arraignment wrapped up, the judge reportedly said, “Good luck, Mr. Cosby.” His response: “Thank you.”
Read the full story at NBC 10 and The Associated Press and read the full criminal complaint from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.