A judge is refusing to throw out the criminal case against Bill Cosby, rejecting the argument that a verbal agreement with a previous prosecutor gave him immunity from being tried for sexual assault, NBC Chicago reports.
A former district attorney who did not bring sex-crime charges Cosby a decade ago testified last week that a verbal agreement he made with the star prevented the current prosecutors from proceeding against him in the sexual assault case, the Associated Press reported at the time.
However, Judge Steven T. O’Neill rejected Cosby’s attempt to get the case thrown out on those grounds.
Cosby was charged in December with drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004. She worked at Philadelphia’s Temple University, where Cosby is an alumnus.
Former Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, District Attorney Bruce Castor took the stand in Cosby’s pretrial hearing as the comedian’s lawyers attempted to get the case thrown out, the AP reported. They asserted that Castor had made a non-prosecution agreement with Cosby, which Castor confirmed on the stand.
In an interesting twist, Castor said he made the deal in an attempt to secure a better settlement agreement for Constand, who had filed a civil suit against Cosby.
“I thought making Mr. Cosby pay money was the best I was going to be able to set the stage for,” he said. “I was hopeful that I had made Ms. Constand a millionaire.”
Constand is one of more than 50 women who have alleged the former TV star and comedian drugged and sexually assaulted them during the past half century. This is the only case he has been criminally charged in so far, and he could face up to 10 years in prison.
Gloria Allred, an attorney for more than half of the women who alleged that Cosby committed sexual crimes against them, released a statement to Business Insider questioning why a district attorney would be worried about a potential civil case.
“Since when is it the duty of a district attorney to concern himself with civil cases?” she said. “If there was any such deal it should not be enforced, and this pending criminal case should be permitted to proceed.”
That deal was not put on paper, which the current DA, Kevin Steele, said would have had to happen in order to prevent future prosecution. Steele has said there is no record of any such agreement.
Castor said he believed Cosby, 78, committed the crime, but proving it would have been difficult because of what he described as serious flaws in the case. He said the agreement not to bring forth charges would last “for all time, yes.”
Cosby then testified in the civil suit brought forth by Constand without invoking his right against self-incrimination. That lawsuit was unsealed last summer and led to the charges brought forth against Cosby in December.
“Cosby would have had to have been nuts to say those things if there was any chance he could’ve been prosecuted,” Castor said, adding that he hoped Cosby’s willingness to testify in the civil suit — which he almost certainly wouldn’t have done had a verbal agreement to not bring criminal charges forth been made — would help Constand win a large payout. That suit was settled for an undisclosed amount, per the AP.
He did add that, although his testimony could only help Cosby’s case, he’s hoping for the prosecution to win.
“I’m not on your team here,” Castor told one of Cosby’s lawyers. “I want them to win.”
It was not immediately clear when Common Pleas Judge Steven T. O’Neill will announce his ruling on whether the prosecution can move forward.
We reached out to a lawyer for Cosby and will update this post if we hear back.
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