Pennsylvania court: Cosby sex assault prosecution can move ahead

Cosby Sex Assault Case Headed to Trial

NEW YORK, April 25 (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania appeals court on Monday cleared the way for the criminal case against Bill Cosby to proceed, rejecting the comedian's attempt to have the charges thrown out due to a deal he contends was reached with prosecutors a decade ago.

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The state Superior Court had put the case on hold while it considered whether to take up Cosby's unusual pretrial appeal.

The 78-year-old actor and comic is charged with drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand, a former basketball coach at his alma mater Temple University, at his home in 2004.

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Pennsylvania court: Cosby sex assault prosecution can move ahead
ELKINS PARK, PA - DECEMBER 30: Comedian Bill Cosby is seen leaving on December 30, 2015 at the District Court in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. Cosby has been charged for aggravated indecent assault for a 2004 incident involving Temple University employee Andrea Constand. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/WireImage)
Former Mrs America Lisa Christie, who alleges misconduct by Bill Cosby, holds up photos of her younger self during a news conference at the law office of attorney Gloria Allred in Los Angeles, September 30, 2015. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby arrives for a Habeas Corpus hearing on sexual assault charges at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Makela TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Comedian Bill Cosby touches the metal detector after bumping into it as he arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse for a preliminary hearing related to assault charges, May 24, 2016, in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S.. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter/POOL TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
ELKINS PARK, PA - DECEMBER 30: (EDITORS NOTE: Best quality available) In this handout image provided by the Elkins Park, Montgomery County District Attorney's office, William H. Cosby poses for a mugshot photo during his arraignment December 30, 2015 in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. Cosby was arraigned at 2:30 p.m. before Magisterial District Judge Elizabeth McHugh and charged with Aggravated Indecent Assault. Bail was set at $1 million under the condition that he surrender his passport and have no contact with the victim. Cosby was released.after posting $100,000, the required 10 percent of bail. (Photo by Montgomery County District Attorney's Office via Getty Images)
A woman holding a sign that reads "Rape is No Joke" protests as people walk into the Centre In The Square venue where Bill Cosby is performing in Kitchener, January 7, 2015. Bill Cosby, the subject of more than a dozen sex abuse allegations over the past three months, will go ahead with three Canadian shows this week, coming as more women levelled accusations against the comedian. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA - Tags: CRIME LAW ENTERTAINMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Attorney Gloria Allred (L) speaks accompanied by Actress Lili Bernard (R) announcing allegations against comedian Bill Cosby in New York, May 1, 2015. REUTERS/Darren Ornitz TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
ELKINS PARK, PA - DECEMBER 30: Bill Cosby's home is seen after his arraignment at Montgomery County District Court on sexual assault charges December 30, 2015 in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. Cosby was arraigned at 2:30 p.m. before Magisterial District Judge Elizabeth McHugh charged with Aggravated Indecent Assault. Bail was set at $1 million under the condition that he surrender his passport and have no contact with the victim. Cosby was released after posting the required 10 percent of the bail, $100,000. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby waves to cheering fans while departing a hearing on sexual assault charges at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Makela TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Linda Kirkpatrick, one of three women who allege they were sexually assaulted by comedian Bill Cosby, listens to a question after speaking at a news conference in Los Angeles, California, January 7, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT CRIME LAW TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
ELKINS PARK, PA - DECEMBER 30: Bill Cosby is led from the Cheltenham Police Station after his arraignment at Montgomery County District Court on sexual assault charges December 30, 2015 in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. Cosby was arraigned at 2:30 p.m. before Magisterial District Judge Elizabeth McHugh charged with Aggravated Indecent Assault. Bail was set at $1 million under the condition that he surrender his passport and have no contact with the victim. Cosby was released after posting the required 10 percent of the bail, $100,000. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
ELKINS PARK, PA - DECEMBER 30: Bill Cosby's home is seen after his arraignment at Montgomery County District Court on sexual assault charges December 30, 2015 in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. Cosby was arraigned at 2:30 p.m. before Magisterial District Judge Elizabeth McHugh charged with Aggravated Indecent Assault. Bail was set at $1 million under the condition that he surrender his passport and have no contact with the victim. Cosby was released after posting the required 10 percent of the bail, $100,000. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
Bill Cosby leaves his arraignment at Montgomery County District Court in Cheltenham, Pa., on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, after county prosecutors filed sex assault charges against him. (Tom Gralish/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS via Getty Images)
ELKINS PARK, PA - DECEMBER 30: Comedian Bill Cosby (C) arrives on December 30, 2015 at the District Court in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. Cosby has been charged for aggravated indecent assault for a 2004 incident involving Temple University employee Andrea Constand. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/WireImage)
US comedian Bill Cosby arrives December 30, 2015 to the Court House in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania to face charges of aggravated indecent assault. Cosby was arraigned over an incident that took place in 2004 -- the first criminal charge filed against the actor after dozens of women claimed abuse.AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCUR / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
US comedian Bill Cosby December 30, 2015 at the Court House in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania to face arraignment on charges of aggravated indecent assault. Cosby was arraigned over an incident that took place in 2004 -- the first criminal charge filed against the actor after dozens of women claimed abuse.AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCUR / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Montgomery County First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele speaks during a press conference announcing the indictment of Bill Cosby for alleged sexual assault on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015. At left is Cheltenham Township police Chief John Norris, and at right is Samuel J. Gallen, chief of Montgomery County Detectives. (Alejandro A. Alvarez/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, DECEMBER 30: Attorney Gloria Allred speaks during a press conference in response to the felony sexual assault charges levied against comedian Bill Cosby stemming from an alleged January 2004 assault of Temple University employee Andrea Constand at Cosby's Pennsylvania home December 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. Allred represents 29 alleged sexual assault victims of Bill Cosby. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
ELKINS PARK, PA - DECEMBER 30: Bill Cosby's home is seen after his arraignment at Montgomery County District Court on sexual assault charges December 30, 2015 in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. Cosby was arraigned at 2:30 p.m. before Magisterial District Judge Elizabeth McHugh charged with Aggravated Indecent Assault. Bail was set at $1 million under the condition that he surrender his passport and have no contact with the victim. Cosby was released after posting the required 10 percent of the bail, $100,000. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby departs the Montgomery County Courthouse after a pre-trial hearing on sexual assault charges in Norristown, Pennsylvania May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Makela TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Attorney Gloria Allred holds a copy of a criminal complaint by Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, during a news conference in Los Angeles, California to comment on the aggravated indecent assault charges filed against comedian Bill Cosby by the Montgomery County, Pennsylvania District Attorney December 30, 2015. Cosby has been charged with felony sexual assault over an incident in 2004 at his Philadelphia-area mansion, a Pennsylvania prosecutor said on Wednesday, in the first criminal case involving the comedian after years of mounting accusations. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby is helped through the metal detector as he arrives for the first day of his sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S. June 5, 2017. REUTERS/David Maialetti/Pool TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Bill Cosby is helped by an aide as he returns into Courtroom A in the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S. September 6, 2016. REUTERS/Michael Bryant/Pool TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
NORRISTOWN, PA - JUNE 5: Bill Cosby arrives with actress Keshia Knight Pulliam (R) at the Montgomery County Courthouse before the opening of the sexual assault trial June 5, 2017 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. A former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. More than 40 women have accused the 79 year old entertainer of sexual assault. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
NORRISTOWN, PA - JUNE 5: Brian McMonagle, an attorney for Bill Cosby, arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse before the opening of the sexual assault trial June 5, 2017 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. A former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. More than 40 women have accused the 79 year old entertainer of sexual assault. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 23: Bill Cosby is escorted to the Allegheny County Courthouse before the second day of jury selection in his sexual assault case on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Andrew Rush - Pool/Getty Images)
NORRISTOWN, PA - JUNE 5: Attorney Gloria Allred arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse before the opening of the sexual assault trial of Bill Cosby June 5, 2017 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. A former Temple University employee alleges that the entertainer drugged and molested her in 2004 at his home in suburban Philadelphia. More than 40 women have accused the 79 year old entertainer of sexual assault. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
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Constand, now 44, is one of more than 50 women who have come forward to accuse Cosby of sexually assaulting them in a series of attacks dating to the 1960s. The allegations have toppled Cosby, who built a long career on family-friendly comedy, from his position as one of the United States' best-loved entertainers.

Constand's case is the only one that has led to criminal charges, in part because of statutes of limitations. Cosby faces a number of civil lawsuits from many of his alleged victims.

Monday's ruling clears the way for a preliminary hearing, where prosecutors are expected to outline some of the evidence against Cosby.

Representatives for Cosby and the Montgomery County district attorney's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Lawyers for Cosby, who has denied any wrongdoing, had argued that former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor had promised not to prosecute Cosby in the Constand case in exchange for Cosby's agreement to give a deposition in her civil lawsuit.

But current prosecutors countered that no written deal existed to back up that contention and said Castor was not legally authorized to bind his successors from pursuing criminal charges.

In February, Pennsylvania Common Pleas Court Judge Steven O'Neill rejected Cosby's bid following a two-day hearing at which Castor testified that he agreed not to prosecute Cosby if he sat for the deposition.

Cosby has portrayed the encounter with Constand as consensual and said he gave her an anti-allergy medication. (Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott)

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