Bill Cosby remains free after paying bail set at $1 million in an Elkins, Penn., courtroom on Wednesday, where he answered to the only criminal charges brought against him in the wave of allegations from more than 50 women that he committed sex crimes against them over the past four decades.
The Cosby Show star, 78, who has always maintained his innocence, entered no plea to a charge of aggravated indecent assault during his arraignment in a courtroom outside Philadelphia. The felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. He made no statement to the many reporters who gathered to see him enter the courtroom wearing a bulky sweater and carrying a cane.
Bill Cosby appears in court. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)
Cosby surrendered his passport and was fingerprinted and photographed before his release. His preliminary hearing is set for January 14.
Cosby’s lawyers issued a statement after the arraignment: “The charge by the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office came as no surprise, filed 12 years after the alleged incident and coming on the heels of a hotly contested election for this county’s DA during which this case was made the focal point,” the statement read. “Make no mistake, we intend to mount a vigorous defense against this unjustified charge and we expect that Mr. Cosby will be exonerated by a court of law.”
Cosby’s mugshot (Cheltenham Township Police Department)
The charge stems from Andrea Constand’s claims that Cosby assaulted her during a dinner at his home, where he had promised to give her career advice on the night of Jan. 4, 2004. The civil suit alleged that Cosby gave her “herbal pills,” before he “touched her breasts and vaginal area, rubbed his penis against her hand, and digitally penetrated her.” She also claimed that she had a blurry memory of what had happened the next morning when she woke up still at his home with crumpled clothes.
Though Constand reported the incident in 2005, the district attorney declined to file charges and the civil lawsuit was settled in 2006. However, new light was shed on the case over the summer when a deposition in that lawsuit was unsealed. In it, Cosby admitted to giving Quaaludes to women for sex, although he continued to claim he was innocent.
A new district attorney reopened the Constad case last year, and the comedian is being charged days before reaching the statute of limitations. That date has already been reached in most of the cases in which Cosby has been accused.
Lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents several of the women, said that they’ll support Constad. “Many of my clients will be willing to testify and we look forward to a just result,” she said in a news conference.