UPDATED throughout, 12:22 PM: Bill Cosby has been arraigned on felony sexual assault charges at a Pennsylvania courthouse. He will remain free on $1 million bail pending trial. He did not have to enter a plea to the charge that stems from a 2004 case.
At 2:30 PM ET, TV news networks trained their attention outside the courthouse in Elkins Park, PA as “America’s Favorite Father,” as CNN called him, emerged from a Chevy SUV with tinted windows, dressed in a grey-and-white hooded sweater, and walked past the media mob into the courthouse, shaking his head from side-to-side, presumably in response to requests for comment. He was walking with a cane and slipped slightly at some point during the short walk from the vehicle. Eight minutes later, Cosby emerged from the courthouse, got back into the SUV and left, without stopping to address the mob of media. He faces three felony counts of second-degree aggravated indecent assault (his mug shot is to the right). Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Kevin R. Steele defined the act as “penetration” without the consent of his victim, former Temple University employee Andrea Constand. (During his press conference earlier, Steele mistakenly said it was a first-degree charge.)
When the judge entered the courtroom, she announced that bail had been set at $1 million with 10% requiring to be met, according to reporters who were present for the arraignment. She told Cosby he had to give up his passport, at which point a male attorney who had entered the court with Cosby stood up and placed a passport in the hand of the prosecutor. The judge explained to Cosby he is barred from having any contact with any alleged victim. When she asked Cosby if he understood, he said “Yes.”
After leaving the Elkins Park courthouse, Cosby was to be fingerprinted at a nearby police station. If convicted he could get five to 10 years in prison, and up to a $25,000 fine. His preliminary hearing is set for January 14.
Gloria Allred, who represents 29 women who claim to have been assaulted by Cosby but does not represent Constand, said in a news conference following the arraignment that it was, for her clients, “the best Christmas present they have ever received.” She went to say, “So many women who have alleged they are victims have cried out for justice…for so long. In Pennsylvania, there is now a journey to justice… I am very happy that this day has finally come. Mr. Cosby deserves a fair trial, but so does Andrea Constand.”
Allred also said she was “stunned” the announcement came down this morning. “I was aware there is a statute of limitations in state of Pennsylvania…and that that statute of limitations required that there be a decision within a short time period,” she said. “So I knew would be within this timeframe, but not necessarily today.”
Cosby is alleged to have assaulted Andrea Constand at Cosby’s home 12 years ago. These are the first criminal charges brought against the comedian out of a torrent of allegations by dozens and dozens of women over the years and could see the 78-year-old Cosby, known as “America’s Dad”, sent to prison in the twilight of his life. In the Constand case, Cosby admitted to having prescriptions for Quaaludes in the 1970s and that he intended to give those pills to women with whom he wanted to have sex.
This comes amid several countersuits the comedian has filed against his accusers. It also comes as Cosby battles to stop already ordered depositions by himself in a defamation case by Janice Dickinson. The former America’s Next Top Model judge alleges that Cosby raped her in 1982 and that Cosby attorney Marty Singer branded her a “liar” last year when she brought the incident up.
Cosby’s legendary career began to unravel as the allegations began to pour in last year. Netflix pulled the plugged on an already filmed special with Cosby on November 18, 2014, as the allegations of rape, drugging and more began to rise and rise. The next day, on November 19, NBC, the former home of The Cosby Show, hit halt on a proposed family sitcom with Cosby.
Here is video of Cosby’s short walk from his SUV to the courthouse:
Deadline TV Columnist Lisa de Moraes contributed to this story.