UPDATE: Click here to read the criminal complaint.
The arrest of Bill Cosby on sexual assault charges stemming from a 2004 encounter in Pennsylvania is a fitting end to a tumultuous year for him. More than 40 accusers have gone public in the past year with complaints that he drugged (or attempted to drug) them and sexually assaulted them or attempted to do so. But criminal prosecutions of most of these allegations are time-barred. The incidents occurred too long ago which means that criminal charges cannot be brought.
Today’s announcement by the Montgomery County District Attorney-Elect Kevin Steele comes as a surprise. Click here to read the press release. More than a decade ago, another prosecutor declined to file criminal charges for the alleged assault of Andrea Constand who was a Temple University employee at the time. (Today, Constand lives in Canada.) In 2005, Constand sued Cosby in federal district court in Pennsylvania. Earlier this year, some documents related to that civil suit were unsealed. One of the documents includes portions of Cosby’s deposition where he admitted giving quaaludes to women with whom he wanted to have sex. Constand’s attorneys were dissatisfied with what they believed were incomplete answers and asked the court to compel him to answer more fully. Read that document here.
According to published reports, it was the disclosure of portions of the deposition, and the admissions Cosby made in them, that caused the District Attorney to have another look at the case. Also according to reports, Cosby will be arraigned this afternoon. The official charge is aggravated indecent assault; the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania is 12 years which would have expired in January 2016.
It appears that Cosby may have been told in advance of the arrest warrant and then given an opportunity to surrender, rather than to be picked up by the police and brought to court or a police station. Perhaps he has already been indicted and the indictment basically serves as the arrest warrant. We’ll know soon.