Pennsylvania Judge Rules Against Cosby, Sexual Assault Case Goes to Trial

(Photo: TRACIE VAN AUKEN, EPA)
(Photo: TRACIE VAN AUKEN, EPA)

The criminal sexual-assault charges against Bill Cosby here will stand and will proceed to trial, a judge ruled Wednesday, after a two-day hearing.

Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill had said he would rule earlier on Wednesday, but he decided after the lunch break he wanted to hear more testimony from Cosby’s prosecutors, who are trying to persuade O’Neill not to toss the criminal charges against Cosby.

Testimony on Wednesday focused on the much-debated 2005 “no-prosecution” deal that Cosby says shields him from prosecution now.

Prosecutors argued that Cosby does not have a  valid immunity deal and the ex-district attorney who testified he approved an immunity deal in an oral agreement 11 years ago has no credibility.

“A secret agreement that permits a wealthy defendant to buy his way out of a criminal case isn’t right,” declared current Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele.

Cosby’s lawyers argued that prosecutors can and do make no-prosecution deals with defendants all the time, and those deals are binding on future prosecutors.

“This prosecution should be stopped in its tracks,” said Cosby lawyer Christopher Taybeck. “When a prosecutor gives his word, that’s something that is enforceable.”

Testimony on Day 2 focused on the decision 11 years not to put in writing an agreement between Cosby and the then-district attorney Bruce Castor not to prosecute him on criminal charges.

Cosby’s general counsel, John Schmitt, testified that he and Cosby were satisfied with the press release about the agreement, written and signed by Castor in 2005, as the documentation they needed to show Cosby would never be prosecuted. Plus, Schmitt said, he received numerous “oral assurances” from Castor that no charges could ever be filed.

Without these, Schmitt said, he would never have let Cosby sit for a deposition for a civil suit if there was a potential threat of criminal prosecution for what he said.

“Certainly not,” Schmitt said.

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SOURCE: USA Today
Maria Puente, USA TODAY and Brittany Horn, USA TODAY Network