One week before Bill Cosby was to face a preliminary hearing on criminal charges stemming from an alleged 2004 drugging and sexual assault of Andrea Constand, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania today granted him some breathing room. The Pennsylvania court issued an order Tuesday that temporarily stays the lower court proceedings pending a verdict on the local D.A.’s motion to kill the actor’s appeal in the matter.
“Upon consideration of the Appellant’s ‘Emergency Petition For A Writ Of Prohibition Ancillary To Appellate Jurisdiction’ and the Commonwealth’s answer, the trial court proceedings shall be temporarily stayed pending disposition of the Commonwealth’s motion to quash appeal,” ordered the Keystone State Superior Court in a brief filing today (read it here).
Court officials confirm to Deadline that this means next Tuesday’s hearing in Judge Steven O’Neill’s Norristown courtroom is canceled for now. On February 12, Cosby and his lawyers filed a direct appeal to the state’s Superior Court to appeal O’Neill’s ruling February 3 that the case involving a trio of felony second-degree aggravated indecent assault charges could go forward. Yesterday, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele filed paperwork urging the higher court to reject Cosby’s appeal attempt until after a trial is over. Steele’s motion Monday is what triggered today’s response from the Superior Court
With consequences of up to 10 years behind bars and more, the criminal charges were made late last year by Steele to get in under the wire of Pennsylvania’s 12-year statute of limitations. Cosby was arraigned December 30 and released on $1 million bail without entering a plea. As well as fighting the charges, Cosby went after Constand, her mother, her lawyers and the owners of the National Enquirer in federal court to get the money from a 2006 civil case settlement back.
On February 1, just before what was a two-day hearing on whether the Pennsylvania criminal case would go forward or not, the actor filed an under-seal jury-seeking complaint against Constand and others claiming that there had been numerous “breaches of the 2006 Confidential Settlement Agreement.” Both Constand and her attorneys Dolores Troiani and Bebe Kivitz have responded against what the former Temple University employee has called Cosby’s “bullying tactics.” In a filing of February 23 in federal court, Constand now wants the confidentiality agreement voided based on the actor’s legal conduct.