New Pennsylvania prosecutor could be first to charge Cosby - experts

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Cosby to Be Deposed in Defamation Lawsuit

A newly elected suburban Pennsylvania prosecutor could be positioned to bring the first criminal charges of sex assault against comedian Bill Cosby, though the clock is ticking, legal experts said on Wednesday.

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Kevin Steele, a Democrat, on Tuesday defeated opponent Bruce Castor, a Republican, in the race for district attorney in Montgomery County, where Cosby's first named accuser filed a 2005 complaint against the actor.

The statute of limitations runs out in January on that case, in which the woman claimed Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in his mansion in 2004.

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New Pennsylvania prosecutor could be first to charge Cosby - experts
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby is shown circa 1960s. (AP Photo)
Bill Cosby, co-star of television’s “I Spy” series, holds a golden apple awarded him by the Hollywood Women’s Press Club in Hollywood, Los Angeles on Dec. 21, 1966 as the most cooperative actor of the year. The presentation was made by actress Dorothy Malone, last year’s winner as most co-operative actress. Phyllis Diller, now in South Viet Nam on an entertainment tour, was named this year’s most cooperative actress. Sour apple awards for being the least cooperative went to Natalie Wood and Elvis Presley. (AP Photo/ERB)
Nina van Pallandt, European singer who figures prominently in the Clifford Irving-Howard Hughes autobiography case, reacts during taping of interview on the Dick Cavett Show in New York on Feb. 16, 1972. Comedian Bill Cosby is at right. (AP Photo/John Lent)
July 1973: The actor, Bill Cosby, in Perth. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Actress Farrah Fawcett and comedian Bill Cosby are shown at the Challenge of the Sexes tournament in Mission Viejo, Calif., April 4, 1977. (AP Photo/Jeff Robbins)
Jack Paar, Bill Cosby and Renee Richards at Forest Hills celebrity tennis tournament in New York on August 27, 1977. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler)
Comedian, actor and author Bill Cosby poses on Oct. 25, 1982 at an unknown location. (AP Photo)
John H. Johnson, publisher of Let and Ebony magazines, left, and actor Bill Cosby, center, join the Rev. Jesse Jackson at a benefit reception for Operation PUSH, in Chicago, Ill., on April 1, 1982. (AP Photo)
Comedian Bill Cosby, right, jokingly plays a game of tug-of-war with Governor Dick Thornburgh as Cosby was presented the Distinguished Pennsylvania Artist award during ceremonies at the State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on Tuesday, May 8, 1984. Thornburgh presented Cosby the award for his gift of humor which has helped people overcome racial and social barriers. Cosby was born in Philadelphia and spent his childhood years there. (AP Photo/Fred Prouser)
Entertainer Bill Cosby looks over a bust of the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson at a push for excellence fundraiser in Chicago on Sunday, April 9, 1984. Jackson was presented the Push for Excellence Frederick Douglass Memorial Award for his “service in the cause of human rights and social justice.” (AP Photo/Mark Elias)
Comedian Bill Cosby and former President Jimmy Carter pose with members of the cast of a new TV program, Aug 29, 1985 in Atlanta, being aimed at children to teach them the dangers of tobacco, alcohol and not wearing seat belts. (AP Photo/Joe Sebo)
Comedian Bill Cosby, right, is joined by Manhattan borough President David Dinkins at News York?s Pierre Hotel on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 1986. Cosby was in New York to promote a new line of dolls manufactured by Mattel. (AP Photo/Frankie Ziths)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 16: Actor Bill Cosby leaves his New York City home accompanied by his wife, Camille (L,) and a young woman with her hands over her face, believed to be one of his four daughters, enroute to Los Angeles, CA, 16 January 1997 after his son Enis William Cosby was found shot to death along a California freeway. The young Cosby, 28, was found in a pool of blood after he stopped to change a flat tire. (Photo credit should read BOB STRONG/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, : Actor and comedian Bill Cosby (R) and his wife Camille arrive at the White House 06 December for a reception prior to being honored at the 21st annual national Kennedy Center Honors. Cosby and the other honorees will be saluted later 06 December at a performance in the Kennedy Center's Opera House. AFP PHOTO/CHRIS KLEPONIS (Photo credit should read CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: Co-hosts Oprah Winfrey and Bill Cosby joke with each other during the opening of the 2000 Essence Awards 14 April, 2000 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Actor Danny Glover and basketball star Michael Jordan were two of the honorees at the ceremonies sponsored by Essence Magazine. AFP PHOTO/Matt CAMPBELL (Photo credit should read MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images)
386603 06: Rachel Robinson and Actor Bill Cosby, who was the Master of Ceremonies, share a moment March 12, 2001 at The Jackie Robinson Foundation 2001 Awards Dinner at The Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. (Photo by George De Sota/Newsmakers)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: Actor Bill Cosby arrives at the NBC 75th Anniversary Special at Rockefeller Plaza in New York 05 May 2002. The actual anniversary fell on 15 November, 2001. AFP PHOTO Doug KANTER (Photo credit should read DOUG KANTER/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 9: Actor Comedian Bill Cosby shows off the Presidential Medal of Freedom he received from U.S. President George W. Bush during a ceremony July 9, 2002 at the White House in Washington, DC. The medal is the highest civilian award given to those who have made meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
PHILIDELPHIA - MAY 22: Comedian and member of the Board of Trustees of Temple University Bill Cosby enters the arena prior to speaking to the graduates of the Class of 2003 at Temple University's commencement ceremony in The Liacouras Center May 22, 2003 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Don Murray/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 21: Actor Bill Cosby poses backstage with his 'Bob Hope Humanitarian' award during the 55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium September 21, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 12: Comedian Bill Cosby introduces the film 'Fat Albert' at Temple University's Liacouras Center for the world premiere of 'Fat Albert' December 12, 2004 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The film, based on Bill Cosby's 'Fat Albert' cartoon series of the 70's, opens nationwide Christmas day. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11: Comedian Bill Cosby performs at the Apollo Theater on December 11, 2005 In New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 14: (AFP OUT) Entertainer Bill Cosby speaks during a taping of 'Meet the Press' at the NBC studios October 14, 2007 in Washington, DC. Cosby spoke on the new book he co-authored 'Come On, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors.' (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press)
Entertainer Bill Cosby shakes hands with a student after attending a news conference on the steps of John McDonogh High School in New Orleans, Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 30, 2007. The high school is among the city's most desperate, run-down schools. In October, Cosby visited McDonogh to force a dialogue with state educators over the building's condition and the overall education of students. Cosby lent his celebrity status to a group pushing for improvements to the city's school system, which is suffering from teacher shortages and overcrowded classrooms. Children are paying the consequences, Cosby said. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 19: Bill Cosby arrives at the Esquie Magazine and Village Academies event honoring Bill Cosby at Esquire North November 19, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Loud/Getty Images)
Comedian Bill Cosby, right posses for photographers with Temple University football head coach Al Golden during a news conference in Philadelphia, Tuesday, July 31, 2007. Cosby, a former Temple football player, participated in a news conference to unveil new Temple football uniforms. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
** FILE ** In this Feb. 27, 2008 file photo, Bill Cosby, perennial host of the Playboy Jazz Festival, right, and Playboy impresario Hugh Hefner greet each other at a party to announce the lineup of the upcoming 30th annual festival, at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
Comedian Bill Cosby speaks at a conference for community organizations in Newark, N.J., Thursday, May 1, 2008. Cosby spoke about the responsibilities of families in raising children. (AP Photo/Mike Derer)
WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 26: Comedian Bill Cosby poses for photographers at the 12th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the John F. Kennedy Center on October 26, 2009 in Washington, DC. Cosby is this year's honoree. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
Comedian Bill Cosby performs on stage at The Kennedy Center during a musical birthday salute to Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., Sunday, March 8, 2009, in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
NEW YORK - JUNE 08: Bill Cosby and his wife Camille Cosby speak onstage at the Apollo Theater 75th Anniversary Gala at The Apollo Theater on June 8, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA - APRIL 6: Bill Cosby, Ed.D. poses for pictures before accepting the Marian Anderson Award at a gala concert produced in partnership with The Philadelphia Orchestra April 6, 2010 at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby, Ed.D. , right, arrives at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Tuesday, April 6, 2010, with Pamela Browner White, chairperson of the Marian Anderson Award, which was presented to Cosby. ( AP Photo/ H. Rumph Jr)
NEW YORK - MARCH 08: Comedian Bill Cosby attends the Jackie Robinson Foundation Annual Awards Dinner at the The Waldorf Astoria on March 8, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for The Jackie Robinson Foundation)
LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 09: Actor/comedian Bill Cosby speaks onstage during Andre Agassi Foundation for Education's 15th Grand Slam for Children benefit concert at the Wynn Las Vegas October 9, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event raises funds to help improve education for underserved youth in the Las Vegas community. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 02: Comedian Bill Cosby promotes new book 'I Didn't Ask To Be Born: But I'm Glad I Was' at the Barnes & Noble, 5th Avenue on November 2, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 10: Bill Cosby accepts the Impact Award for 'The Cosby Show' with (L-R) actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner, presenter Stevie Wonder, actors Raven-Symone and Sabrina LeBeauf onstage at the 9th Annual TV Land Awards at the Javits Center on April 10, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 07: Host Bill Cosby speaks onstage at the 2011 Jackie Robinson Foundation awards gala atThe Waldorf=Astoria on March 7, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for The Jackie Robinson Foundation)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14: Bill Cosby performs during the Screen Gems Presents The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Gala at Cipriani Wall Street on May 14, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation)
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 13: Actor Bill Cosby gestures to the crowd after throwing out the first pitch prior to the game between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees on September 13, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 05: Bill Cosby hosts the Jackie Robinson Foundation Awards Gala at The Waldorf=Astoria on March 5, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for The Jackie Robinson Foundation)
Entertainer Bill Cosby stands before he starts youth races on the infield during the Penn Relays athletics meet Friday, April 27, 2012 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JUNE 15: Actor/comedian Bill Cosby speaks onstage during the 100th anniversary celebration of the Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows supporting the Motion Picture & Television Fund and the American Comedy Fund hosted by Bill Cosby at the Beverly Hills Hotel on June 15, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for BHH)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 06: Bill Cosby performs at the 7th annual 'Stand Up For Heroes' event at Madison Square Garden on November 6, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 22: Bill Cosby speaks during the 55th Anniversary of Ben's Chili Bowl on August 22, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 04: Dr. Bill Cosby speaks onstage at the The Jackie Robinson Foundation Annual Awards' Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on March 4, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for The Jackie Robinson Foundation)
LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 26: Comedian/actor Bill Cosby performs at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino on September 26, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Comedian Bill Cosby addresses the Press Room during the 2014 American Comedy Awards at Hammerstein Ballroom on April 26, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 10: Actor/comedian Bill Cosby performs onstage at Funny Or Die Clubhouse + Facebook Pop-Up HQ @ SXSW - Day 2 on March 10, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Comedian Bill Cosby attends 2014 American Comedy Awards at Hammerstein Ballroom on April 26, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, FL - NOVEMBER 21: Actor Bill Cosby performs at the King Center for the Performing Arts on November 21, 2014 in Melbourne, Florida. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

In the weeks leading up the election, in which Steele won 50.33 percent of the vote while Castor received 49.67 percent, both men said they would work to charge Cosby if elected.

Experts on Wednesday said the action would likely come easier than it did a decade ago, when the district attorney declined to file charges citing weak evidence.

"In some ways this case had gotten stronger in the last 10 years," said Matthew Galluzzo, a former sex crimes prosecutor and current defense lawyer in New York.

In the years since the complaint by Andrea Constand, Cosby has been bombarded with accusations of sexual assault by more than 50 women, many of whom contend the actor slipped them sedatives before assaulting them.

The charges shocked Cosby's fans and crushed his reputation as an entertainer and wholesome father figure, but he has never been criminally charged and has denied the accusations. A spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

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Galluzzo said the flurry of media attention given to Cosby's accusers over the past year will make it difficult to find jury members whose opinions on Cosby have not been influenced by extensive media coverage of sex assault allegations.

In a deposition taken in 2006 for a separate civil lawsuit brought by Constand and recently released, Cosby said he supplied women with sedatives before sex.

Many of the accusations against Cosby date back decades, putting them beyond the statute of limitations. But in Constand's case, prosecutors have until January to file charges.

Reuters does not normally name victims of sex assault but Constand has publicly identified herself.

Current District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, who is leaving her post to become county judge, quietly opened Constand's case against Cosby this year. Steele has been her deputy prosecutor.

Also aiding the case would be prosecutors' ability to use the testimony of other accusers with similar stories to Constand, "which is always a very powerful piece of evidence," said John Clune, a Colorado lawyer who represents sex crime victims. (Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by David Gregorio)

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