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Judge rules Bill Cosby can't avoid sexual assault charges

Bill Cosby heads to a hearing on February 1.
Bill Cosby heads to a hearing on February 1.
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The sexual assault case against comedian Bill Cosby will move forward, after a judge ruled that the entertainer did not have immunity from facing criminal charges as he had previously claimed, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Judge Steven T. O’Neill heard two days of testimony concerning Cosby’s December arrest for the drugging and sexual assault of former Temple University department employee Andrea Constand, which allegedly took place in January 2004 in his home.

Constand reported the assault to local authorities shortly after their encounter, but Cosby told investigators the sexual acts were consensual. The district attorney at the time, Bruce Castor, said there was not enough evidence to move forward with the case, so Constand, who had moved to Toronto at that point, filed a civil complaint against Cosby. In the meantime, 13 women had come forward with similar claims as Constand and were mentioned in her case as Jane Doe witnesses. The case was settled the case on undisclosed terms in 2006.

Constand is now one of nearly 60 women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault over the course of several decades.

This week, his lawyers argued that the 2006 settlement established immunity for Cosby from criminal charges. They added that they would not have let Cosby testify in that civil case a decade ago had they known he could have faced criminal charges in the future. But Constand’s lawyer, Dolores Troiani, said Wednesday that such a deal was not agreed upon, which is why current District Attorney Kevin Steele brought charges against Cosby; the situation technically took place within the statute of limitations.

According to AP, Steele told the judge, "A secret agreement that allows a wealthy defendant to buy his way out of a criminal case isn't right."

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