3rd UPDATE, 2:56 PM: As expected, Bill Cosby’s pre-trial hearing in Norristown, PA is going to a second day. As lawyers for The Cosby Show actor try to have the recently filed criminal charges stemming from a 2004 alleged sexual assault dismissed, Judge Steven O’Neill announced proceedings would end today at 5:30 PM ET. With Cosby once again expected in the courtroom, they are set to resume on Wednesday at 9:30 AM ET. Take a look at today’s proceedings and events below if you need to get up to speed on what went down.
As was also expected, Tuesday was dominated by the testimony of former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor and the verbal deal he made in 2005 allowing Cosby to avoid prosecution. The defense says that deal shuts down any action against their client. Having beaten Castor in an election last year, the current D.A. Kevin Steele says the agreement around the claims of accuser Andrea Constand holds no weight with him because it wasn’t formalized in any fashion.
2ND UPDATE, 11:45 AM: “What I think is that Andrea Constand was inappropriately touched by Mr. Cosby,” former Montgomery County (PA) District Attorney Bruce Castor told a Pennsylvania courtroom today under cross-examination by his former office. “I am not analyzing it back in 2005 as to what I think. I am analyzing it in 2005 as to what I can prove,” he added, about why he and his office did not pursue charges against Bill Cosby after an alleged 2004 sexual assault incident involving Constand, an ex-Temple University employee, was brought to his attention.
Due to a verbal deal Castor made with a Cosby lawyer more than a decade ago to exempt the actor from prosecution, the ex-D.A.’s testimony is at the heart of Tuesday’s pre-trial hearing. Cosby’s team is arguing that that agreement should see the criminal charges the current D.A. hit the actor with late last year dismissed. “I can probably rattle off half a dozen people I think committed murder in Montgomery County, but I can’t prove it and that’s why they didn’t get arrested,” Castor said today.
“Let me be clear Mr. McMonagle,” Castor told one of Cosby’s lawyers while being questioned. “I’m not on your team here. I want them to win.”
UPDATE, 8:50 AM: “Mr. Cosby was not getting prosecuted at all, ever,” said former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor today of the no-prosecution deal made with Bill Cosby and his former lawyer a decade ago. “Once the possibility for all time of being prosecuted is removed, the ability to take the fifth amendment for all time is also removed,” he added of the move to make sure the actor testified in Andrea Constand’s civil case alleging that she was sexually assaulted by Cosby in 2004. “I made the final determination as the sovereign and not Bruce Castor D.A.,” Castor also said on the stand in Norristown, PA at a pre-trial hearing. “I am the sovereign of Montgomery County, as the sovereign I determined we would not prosecute Mr. Cosby and that would then set off chain of events would gain some justice for Ms. Andrea Constand.
“I decided that there was insufficient, credible and admissible evidence upon which any charge against Mr. Cosby related to the Constand incident could be proven beyond reasonable doubt,” Castor told Cosby’s lawyer and the courtroom Tuesday morning. “My choices were to leave the case open and hope it got better. Or definitively close the case and allow the civil court to provide redress to Ms. Constand.”
Hit late last year with a trio of felony charges of second-degree aggravated indecent assault, The Cosby Show actor and his team of lawyers are in Judge Steven O’Neill’s courtroom seeking a dismissal. The decade old verbal deal between Castor and now deceased Cosby lawyer Walter M. Phillips was revealed after the recent criminal charges were laid against Cosby.
With more than 50 women accusing Cosby, now 78, of molesting them, these charges stem from the alleged 2004 assault of ex-Temple University staffer Constand. D.A. Kevin Steele filed the charges in December 2015, just before the state statute of limitations on the matter expired. Cosby faces up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Revelations of the use of drugs to have sex with women and more from Cosby’s now unsealed deposition in Constand’s civil case, which was later settled, formed the basis of the new charges. “I was hopeful that I had made Ms. Constand a millionaire,” Castor said of the settlement between Cosby and his accuser, though the former D.A. added that he didn’t think Constand did her case any favors a decade ago.
“Ms. Constand had given multiple statements that had inconsistencies within them,” he said, including behavior “that I thought was inconsistent with the behavior of a person who had been sexually assaulted. I knew that end of the case would not get any better.” The sequence of events detailed by Constand, including the use of drugs by Cosby, is similar to what many other women, who also say the actor assaulted them, have claimed occurred.
“In fact her actions on her own, including going to a lawyer before going to the police, had created a credibility issue for her that could never be improved upon,” Castor noted. He also said on the stand that police reports later confirmed what Cosby’s lawyer Philips told him, that Constand and her mother had illegally tapped Constand’s phone. That and seeking and money from Cosby had muddied any potential criminal case.
The hearing continues Tuesday and look likely to pick up on Wedesday too.
PREVIOUS, 7:59 AM: With dozens and dozens of women claiming Bill Cosby molested them, the famed comedian is in a Pennsylvania courtroom today seeking to have the dismissal of the only criminal charges of sexual assault laid against him. Insisting that a decade-old verbal deal with the previous Montgomery County District Attorney inoculated him from prosecution in the 2005 case of Andrea Constand, Cosby and a plethora of lawyers are in the Norristown, PA courthouse this morning aiming to get tossed three felony charges of second-degree aggravated indecent assault. If convicted, the comedian could get up to 10 years in prison and pay a $25,000 fine.
Saying nothing to the assemble media and onlookers, Cosby arrived for the pre-trial hearing at the courthouse around 8:50 AM ET surrounded by personal security and local police.
Already things have taken an unexpected turn in the courtroom, with Judge Steven O’Neill pulling the prosecution and defense teams into a private conference. With former D.A. Bruce Castor on the stand for about an hour testifying about his experience, and expected to discuss the 2005 so-called no-prosecution deal, Cosby’s lawyer Brian McMonagle asked him what he thought of Constand’s statements to local police about the alleged assault.
“I’ve been doing this a long time and wondering if you should hear that answer in front of the camera first,” Castor replied. With Castor not having a lawyer of his own present and the proceedings being transmitted live to an overflow room by closed-circuit camera, O’Neill moved right afterward to the private conference.
Elected in November last year, current D.A. Kevin Steele filed charges against Cosby late last year just before the state statute of limitations expired. As the actor-comedian faces several cases around the country from other women, including former America’s Next Top Model judge Janice Dickinson’s defamation claims in Los Angeles, he was arraigned and released on bail of $1 million December 30 without entering a plea.
With the validity of the no-prosecution agreement the focus of today’s hearing, Castor was long expected to be the primary witness this morning. The supposed deal was made between Castor and Cosby’s former attorney Walter M. Phillips, who died last year.
Back in 2005, Castor decided not to lay criminal charges against Cosby over the alleged incident with the former Temple University employee due to what he called a lack of evidence. Constand then pursued Cosby in civil court where, after the supposed deal with Castor, Cosby gave a three-day deposition. The case was later settled.
As the now infamous Cosby deposition that was unsealed last summer revealed, the comedian admitted to having prescription drugs like Quaaludes that he planned to use for sex with women. The deposition matched claims that many of Cosby’s accusers had made that he drugged them before they were assaulted. Even with statute of limitations restrictions, the revelations of the 2005 deposition has lead to a number of new cases being filed nationwide.
Today’s hearing occurs at almost the same time as a hearing in Santa Monica that’s seeking a second deposition from Cosby in the civil case of Judy Huth. Represented by Gloria Allred, Huth claims Cosby molested her at the Playboy Mansion in 1974 when she was a minor. Cosby’s first and still-sealed deposition in that case occurred on October 9 last year in Boston. Similar to what she said at the time of the first deposition, Allred recently reiterated she wants another sitdown with the actor because he refused to answer “certain questions” during the initial seven-hour session last fall. The motion for a second deposition in Huth’s case was filed under seal.
Mark Dent & Chris Krewson contributed to this report.