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Cosby Lawyers Argue Immunity from Prosecution for Alleged Sex Crimes

  • VOA News

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby, center, arrives for a court appearance in Norristown, Pennsylvania, Feb. 2, 2016.

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby, center, arrives for a court appearance in Norristown, Pennsylvania, Feb. 2, 2016.

Lawyers for comedian Bill Cosby on Tuesday sought to have criminal charges of sexual assault thrown out, contending he signed an immunity from prosecution deal with a former district attorney 10 years ago.

Bruce Castor, the former Montgomery County District Attorney, testified Tuesday at a pretrial hearing on Cosby's dismissal motion that he decided not to bring criminal charges against Cosby in 2005 to make it easier for the alleged victim, Andrea Constand, to collect damages in a civil lawsuit.

Castor said he believed that a criminal case against Cosby would not have succeeded because Constand had waited a year before filing a criminal complaint.

But, because of Castor’s decision not to prosecute, Cosby could not invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination when he gave a deposition for a civil lawsuit against Constand.

"Making Mr. Cosby pay money to Ms. Constand was the best I would be able to set the stage for because a prosecution was not viable and never would be. I was hopeful that I made Ms. Constand a millionaire," Castor testified Tuesday.

But the current district attorney in Montgomery County, where Cosby has been charged, says there is no evidence of immunity from prosecution.

Prosecutors decided in late December to charge Cosby with sexually assaulting Constand in his Philadelphia home in 2004 after allegedly giving her wine and pills that left her unable to fight back.

He faces 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if he is convicted. Cosby, 78, and his lawyers have consistently denied charges of sexual misconduct.

Her testimony

Constand is a former basketball team manager at Temple University, Cosby's alma mater.

She testified in the civil trial that she approached the comedian in 2004 for career advice. She said Cosby invited her to his home, gave her wine, and urged her to take three blue pills.

Constand said she soon found herself unable to move or speak while Cosby fondled her. Constand settled the civil lawsuit against Cosby in 2006.

His testimony

Cosby testified that he and Constand had consensual sex. He admitted obtaining quaalude pills to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex, but insisted the encounters he had with women were consensual.

More than 50 women say Cosby sexually assaulted them in incidents dating back to the 1960s when he first emerged as a comedy star, but only the Constand case has come to trial.

One of Cosby's alleged victims, a model named Chloe Goins, dropped her lawsuit against the comedian Tuesday. She gave no reason.

Also, a California judge ordered Cosby to attend another deposition in the case of a woman who alleges he sexually assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion in 1974, when she was 15 years old.

The allegations have destroyed Cosby's image as the good-natured storyteller and family man he developed over five decades as a major television comedy star.

The 1980’s series The Cosby Show, in which he played a successful doctor, was television's highest-rated program for a number of years, but is scarcely seen in rebroadcasts.