Charges against Bill Cosby can proceed to trial, judge rules

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Sexual assault charges against comedian Bill Cosby from a 2004 incident can proceed to trial, a Pennsylvania judge ruled.

Cosby, 78, is accused of drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand at his Philadelphia-area home in 2004. Over 50 other women have accused Cosby of similar charges and have filed lawsuits. The statute of limitations has passed on all but Constand’s case; hers is the only pending criminal prosecution against Cosby.

In a Norristown, Pa., court Thursday, Judge Steven O’Neill said the case should go to trial, adding Constand need not testify under Pennsylvania law. Cosby’s lawyers contended she should have been required to testify at a May preliminary hearing and face cross-examination. Prosecutors said that, since witness credibility is not a issue, there is no need for her to face cross-examination in court. At the May hearing it was decided there is enough evidence to move the case to trial.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said after Thursday’s hearing, “The defense operated under a mistaken belief that they had a right to confront the victim at this stage. They do not. If he (Cosby) wants to confront witnesses let’s get this case to trial.”

A statement by Cosby’s lawyers after the Thursday hearing said, “Today a man who has meant so much to so many, a man who has given so much to so many, has had his constitutional rights trampled on. We truly believe that our Supreme Court will right this wrong and reverse this decision so that we can finish the mission of proving Mr. Cosby’s innocence.”

Cosby was present in the courtroom Thursday. Constand was not.