Bill Cosby to ask that sexual assault charges be dropped

[Breaking news update, published at 1:50 p.m. ET]

Former Pennsylvania district attorney Bruce Castor testified Tuesday that when he heard speculation last year that his successor might charge Bill Cosby for alleged sexual assault in a 2004 case, he reminded her by email that he’d already committed the state to not prosecuting the comedian, and that the case had been “put to rest.”

“I knew I had bound the commonwealth as a representative of the sovereign,” Castor said, referring to his 2005 announcement that he would not prosecute Cosby over Andrea Constand’s allegations that the comedian sexually assaulted her. He said he wrote an email from his home to his successor, Risa Vetri Ferman, late last year.

“I wrote her an email explaining the situation from 2005 to tell her to tread carefully, because in my opinion, she was exposing herself to civil liability because the decision to go forward with Cosby was put to rest in 2005. I went into some detail on that so she would have it on record,” Castor said.

Ferman filed charges against Cosby in December 2015, shortly before leaving office.

Cosby’s lawyers are contending that charges filed late last year in the case should be dismissed because Castor had announced in 2005 that Cosby wouldn’t be prosecuted.

[Breaking news update, published at 12:16 p.m. ET]

Former Pennsylvania district attorney Bruce Castor testified Tuesday that he declined in 2005 to file sexual assault charges against Bill Cosby because he believed the case could not be won, and because by not prosecuting, Cosby would not be able to plead the Fifth Amendment when he was called for a deposition in a subsequent civil case filed by the complainant.

By not prosecuting, Castor said, he believed that would set the stage for complainant Andrea Constand to get money in the civil suit.

“I made the decision as the sovereign that Mr. Cosby would not be prosecuted, no matter what. … That made it so that he could not take the Fifth Amendment,” Castor said.

“Mr. Cosby was not getting prosecuted, at all, ever, as far as I was concerned,” Cantor said.

“Making Mr. Cosby pay money to Ms. Constand was the best I was going to be able to set the stage for,” he added.

Castor was testifying Tuesday in a pretrial hearing over whether a late-2015 charge in the same case — Constand’s allegations that Cosby sexually assaulted her in 2004 — will proceed to trial.

[Original story, published at 11:28 a.m. ET]

Bill Cosby’s attorneys were trying to make a case Tuesday that a judge should dismiss a criminal charge alleging that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2004.

The pretrial hearing got underway Tuesday morning, with the actor’s lawyers arguing the court should dismiss the case based on an agreement Cosby says he made a decade ago with the former District Attorney of Montgomery County.

On December 30 Cosby was charged with one count of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand, one of a long line of accusers who was the first to go to authorities, in 2005.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, Constand alleges that in 2004 Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in his Pennsylvania home after inviting her there to discuss her professional future.

During the hearing, Cosby’s attorneys plan to argue to Administrative Judge Steven O’Neill that the district attorney at the time, Bruce Castor, promised Cosby he would never be prosecuted on deposition testimony from a civil case filed by Constand in 2005.

Castor, whom the defense called to testify early in Tuesday’s hearing, did not file sexual assault charges against Cosby in that same year, citing “insufficient credible and admissible evidence.”

Cosby arrived at the hearing in a brown suit, holding a cane in one hand as he clutched the arm of a man who was walking with him for support.

Constand, a former director of operations for Temple University’s women’s basketball team, met Cosby in 2002 when, according to prosecution documents, she believed he sought her out to be a “mentor” and “sincere friend.”

Constand’s civil suit alleged battery, sexual assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

It was settled in 2006 with a confidential settlement agreement but not before a judge compelled Cosby to answer questions under oath.

That deposition was sealed for the last decade but parts were unsealed last summer by a federal judge. The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, then led by a different prosecutor, reopened the investigation based on “new evidence” from that now public deposition.

That new evidence, according to prosecutors, centers on a question from Constand’s civil attorney Dolores Troiani and Cosby’s response during the sworn testimony:

Q. “When you got the Quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these Quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?”

A. “Yes.”

Cosby later stated in the deposition he was only referring to one unnamed woman.

Defense attorneys admit in court documents the nonprosecution agreement was never put in writing and Cosby’s attorney who allegedly negotiated the deal is now dead.

Newly elected District Attorney Kevin Steele argues that the agreement never existed, saying in legal filings the DA’s office has no documentation on it and they can’t find anyone who does.

According to Cosby’s own 2005 deposition testimony, he admitted sexual contact with Constand, but said it was consensual.

Cosby has yet to have his preliminary hearing and formal arraignment in the case.

It is not known if the judge will announce a decision at conclusion of the hearing.

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