A judge refused to throw out the sexual assault case against Bill Cosby last night, sweeping aside claims that a previous district attorney had granted the comedian immunity from prosecution a decade ago.
Common Pleas Judge Steven O’Neill issued the ruling after a hard-fought two-day hearing.
The case now moves to a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to try the 78-year-old Cosby on charges he drugged and violated former Temple University athletic department employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.
The TV star could get up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
In 2005, then-District Attorney Bruce Castor decided the case was too flawed to prosecute.
But Castor’s successors reopened the investigation last year after Cosby’s lurid, decade-old testimony from Constand’s civil suit was unsealed at the request of The Associated Press and after dozens of other women came forward with similar accusations that destroyed Cosby’s nice-guy image as America’s Dad.
At the hearing this week, Cosby’s lawyers tried to get the case thrown out by putting Castor himself on the stand.
Castor testified that in deciding not to charge Cosby, he intended to forever close the door on prosecuting the comedian.
He said he considered his decision binding on his successors.
Similarly, Cosby’s lawyers said they never would have let the TV star testify in the civil case if they didn’t believe criminal charges were off the table.
“In this case, the prosecution should be stopped in its tracks,” Cosby lawyer Chris Tayback argued.
“Really what we’re talking about here is honouring a commitment.”
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