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Judge Allows Criminal Case Against Bill Cosby To Proceed


A sexual assault case against Bill Cosby can go forward. The 78-year-old comedian faces criminal charges for an incident back in 2004 in which he allegedly drugged a woman and sexually assaulted her. New evidence and dozens of similar stories from other women reinvigorated this case. Now a Pennsylvania judge has ruled that Cosby can be forced to stand trial. Laura Benshoff from member station WHYY is at the courthouse with the latest. And Laura, tell us what's happened.

LAURA BENSHOFF, BYLINE: Sure. Over the last two days, we've heard a bunch of testimony on whether or not this criminal case against Cosby could go on. His defense is arguing he'd been promised by a former prosecutor that he'd never face these kinds of charges and that that promise was binding forever. Cosby's attorneys presented a press release as evidence that this happened and also talked extensively about how there had been oral assurances made. Now, the current district attorney in this case argued that that's just too flimsy; there is not enough evidence. And a judge tonight sided with him.

MCEVERS: And there's now also been a second ruling against Cosby. Explain that one.

BENSHOFF: So Cosby's defense had also tried to get the current DA taken off the case, saying he'd used it for political gains. That DA had run some really aggressive attack ads during his campaign to get elected last year specifically mentioning the sexual assault allegations that are now at play, and the judge dismissed that one too, saying he saw no misconduct.

MCEVERS: What will happen next?

BENSHOFF: Well, now that these sort of roadblocks have moved out of the way, we are proceeding towards a criminal trial. March 8 is the preliminary hearing, which will sort of open up the rest of the proceedings, and you could sort of say that the road is clear, that we're going to see a criminal trial with Bill Cosby.

MCEVERS: Was Bill Cosby in court today?

BENSHOFF: He was in court. He - there was some speculation that he might testify, but he sat by while people gestured to him and referred to him. But he never testified.

MCEVERS: We mentioned that this stems from an incident back in 2004. Tell us what you know about that incident.

BENSHOFF: So in 2004, a young woman named Andrea Constand who, at the time, worked for Temple University, which is how she met Bill Cosby and who - where he became her mentor - she says that she went over to dinner at his house, and he gave her some pills. And shortly thereafter, she became fuzzy and sort of unable to talk and react. At the time, you know, they had a relationship as friends and as mentor-mentee. And she sort of moved on from that incident and didn't report it to police. A year later, though, she moved back to Canada where she's from. She reported it to police. It was sent down to the jurisdiction just outside of Philadelphia where the alleged incident happened, and that's when district attorneys and detectives picked it up and decided they weren't going to prosecute it.

MCEVERS: That's Laura Benshoff from member station WHYY. Thanks.

BENSHOFF: Thanks, Kelly. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Laura Benshoff
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