Comic Legend Bill Cosby to Face Trial over 2004 Alleged Rape
A judge ruled on Tuesday that Bill Cosby’s trial on sexual assault charges could go forward, setting the stage for a potential legal battle over the prosecution’s evidence.
The ruling, by Judge Elizabeth A. McHugh, ended five months of efforts by Mr. Cosby’s lawyers to have the charges dismissed.
The decision, after a 3½-hour hearing at the Montgomery County Courthouse here, means that a man who was once one of America’s most beloved entertainers but has been pursued by allegations of sexual misconduct by dozens of women must face at least one of his accusers at trial, probably later this year. Mr. Cosby, 78, has denied the allegations.
“This case will move forward,” Judge McHugh told the crowded courtroom. Mr. Cosby, who sat flanked by his lawyers throughout the hearing, stood at the end and said, “Thank you.” The judge wished him luck.
Mr. Cosby waived a formal arraignment, which means he automatically enters a plea of not guilty. The next stage will be for a judge to set a trial date.
Mr. Cosby was helped from the courtroom by his aides without speaking further. His three lawyers crowded into a separate car and would not comment on the decision beyond offering a thumbs up when asked how Mr. Cosby was feeling.
The entertainer was charged in December with drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, a former Temple University staff member for whom Mr. Cosby became a mentor and friend. Prosecutors said he took advantage of his counseling role, gave her pills and assaulted her at his home outside Philadelphia in early 2004.
Ms. Constand was not in the courtroom on Tuesday. During the hearing, Mr. Cosby’s lawyers attacked the prosecution for not calling her as a witness but instead relying on a statement she gave to the police in 2005. A Montgomery County detective read portions of the statement outlining the allegations.
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