The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, based just outside of Philadelphia, PA announced this morning that they are charging famed comedian Bill Cosby with aggravated indecent assault, a first-degree felony, in a 2004 sexual assault case.
This is the first criminal case against Cosby regarding his behavior toward women, which has gotten renewed scrutiny in the past year.
The case could be the biggest Hollywood celebrity trial in the social media era, and could possibly send the 78-year-old comic to prison.
District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman overrode the decision of the previous DA, Bruce L Castor Jr, who decided not to charge Cosby in 2005.
A Temple University employee, Andrea Constand, met him though the women’s basketball team at the university, where he was a trustee. She told police that the comic drugged and assaulted her. Contand settled a civil case with Cosby in 2005 out of court.
Pennsylvania law has a 12-year statute of limitations for felony sexual assault, which this case reaches next month.
Castor, the previous District Attorney, was sued by Constand for declining to file charges against Cosby, arguing that he defamed her by attacking her credibility.
Cosby has maintained that the sex was consensual.
Cosby created and starred in the well-known 1980s sitcom the Cosby Show, considered groundbreaking television as it depicted a loving black family, headed by two well-educated parents. He maintained a fatherly figure off-screen, often scolding young people to “pull their saggy pants up and act responsibly.”
In recent years, over 50 women have come forward with allegations of sexual assault against the comedian. The women’s stories are similar, them claiming he drugged and assaulted them, but they only began to receive attention in late 2014 after comedian Hannibal Buress mocked Cosby as a hypocrite and called him a rapist during a standup routine.
Cover Photo Credit: The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)