Cosby Ordered to Stand Trial in Sex Assault Case

Cosby's accuser did not appear in court, but other witnesses were questioned.

ByABC News
May 24, 2016, 3:35 PM

— -- Comedian Bill Cosby has been ordered to stand trial in the 2004 indecent assault case brought against him last December.

The 78-year-old comedian appeared today in a Pennsylvania courtroom, where District Judge Elizabeth McHugh heard portions of accuser Andrea Constand’s statements to police. Although Cosby’s defense was quick to point out alleged discrepancies in his accuser's previous statements, the judge found enough evidence to proceed to a criminal trial.

Cosby's attorney Brian McMonagle addressed the judge's decision in a statement provided to ABC News.

"Today, in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, 12 years after the alleged incident in question, the Commonwealth had an opportunity to put the complaining witness on the stand but refused. After hearing the weak, inconsistent and incredible evidence presented, it is clear why the prosecution did not allow its witness to speak and be confronted by the person she has accused," he said. "Instead, they chose to rely on an 11 year old hearsay statement from that witness, riddled with numerous corrections and inconsistencies."

"Through the complainant's own written statements, admitted in court, the fact of multiple consensual sexual interactions was established," he continued. "As was the fact that the complainant communicated with, returned to the home of, had dinner with and gave gifts to Mr. Cosby after the alleged assault occurred."

Cosby had attempted to delay the start of the case, but his motion was denied Monday.

Montgomery County First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele brought the aggravated indecent assault charge against the famed actor and comedian late last year, stemming from an alleged incident that took place more than a decade earlier involving Andrea Constand, a Canadian native who then worked at Cosby's alma mater Temple University.

His accuser did not appear at the hearing.

PHOTO: Bill Cosby arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse for a preliminary hearing, May 24, 2016, in Norristown, Pa.
Bill Cosby arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse for a preliminary hearing, May 24, 2016, in Norristown, Pa.
Matt Rourke/AP Photo

The defense had wanted Constand to testify at today's hearing. The prosecution argued against that and instead had the detective who took her statement 11 years ago read the questions and answers in court.

The defense cited what it called discrepancies in Constand's statement to Pennsylvania investigators and her earlier statements to Canadian police. The defense also focused on the lack of the words "stop" or "no" in Constand's account of the alleged incident.

Cheltenham Township Police Chief John Norris was questioned and gave details about his interview with Cosby at the time of the alleged assault.

According to Norris, Cosby admitted to giving Constand Benadryl after she complained about having trouble sleeping. Norris said Cosby told him he went to bed after he and Constand "petted." Cosby later allegedly admitted that she did tell him to stop once during "the second visit" to his home.

Norris testified that Cosby told him that after Constand's mother called the comedian, he told Norris he apologized to the mother and offered to pay for graduate school for her daughter.

Cosby and his legal team have always maintained his encounter with Constand was consensual.

Cosby's lawyers tried to dismiss the charge and asked to disqualify Steele from the case, but both motions were rejected.

"The charge by the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office came as no surprise, filed 12 years after the alleged incident and coming on the heels of a hotly contested election for this county's DA, during which this case was made the focal point," Cosby's lawyers said in a previous statement. "Make no mistake, we intend to mount a vigorous defense against this unjustified charge."

Cosby faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. He has been free on $1 million bail since his arrest on Dec. 30.

"Mr. Cosby is not guilty of any crime and not one single fact presented by the Commonwealth rebuts this truth," McMonagle concluded. "Though the Court decided the government reached the low threshold required for today's preliminary hearing, we have no doubt this case ultimately will be resolved in Mr. Cosby's favor."

ABC News' Linsey Davis contributed to this report.

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