Bill Cosby Arrives for Pretrial Hearing in Criminal Sexual Assault Case

The case against the actor involves Andrea Constand, a former Temple coach.

ByABC News
November 1, 2016, 9:12 AM

— -- Comedian Bill Cosby arrived this morning at a Pennsylvania court for a key pretrial hearing involving his criminal sexual assault case.

Cosby wore a blue suit, carried a cane, and held the arm of someone from his legal team as he entered the courthouse.

A judge will hear arguments from lawyers for Cosby and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, prosecutors.

The case centers on allegations made by Andrea Constand, the former director of operations for the women's basketball team at Temple University in Philadelphia, Cosby's alma mater.

Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O'Neill will determine whether the jury will hear from 13 other accusers and whether Cosby's 2005 deposition in a civil suit brought by Constand will be allowed in court.

More than 50 women have accused the former "Cosby Show" star of drugging and/or sexual misconduct, and prosecutors hope to show that Cosby, 79, had a pattern. Cosby’s attorneys have consistently issued denials.

In a motion, District Attorney Kevin Steele said the prosecution had “investigated nearly fifty women allegedly victimized” by Cosby and asked the court to allow evidence from 13 of them as “prior bad acts."

Meanwhile, Cosby's defense attorneys are fighting to keep these women out of court, adding that Cosby "can no longer defend himself" because he is going blind and can't recognize his accusers.

"Compounding the problem are the vague allegations of many of the accusers about the time and place of the alleged incidents," his attorneys, Brian McMonagle and Angela Agrusa, said in their motion, filed last month to once again attempt to dismiss the charges.

In mid-January 2005, Constand, who now lives in Toronto, went to the Canadian police, telling them that between mid-January and mid-February of 2004 Cosby had given her pills that made her dizzy and weak, and then sexually assaulted her in his suburban Philadelphia estate. Canadian police then alerted Pennsylvania authorities.

Bruce Castor, the then-district attorney in Montgomery County, decided not to press charges, explaining that the accuser and the TV star could be portrayed in "a less than flattering light."

Constand then filed a civil lawsuit against Cosby. In depositions for that case, Cosby claimed to have given Constand Benadryl because she complained of tension and an inability to sleep.

McMonagle, Cosby’s attorney, said in a May statement to ABC News that the relationship between Cosby and Constand was one that involved “multiple consensual sexual interactions.”

"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," the statement read.

Cosby was deposed over the course of four days in September 2005 and March 2006, during which he admitted to giving Quaaludes to a woman years before with whom he wanted to have sex.

In the deposition, Cosby defended himself against Constand's allegations.

"I don’t hear her say anything. And I don’t feel her say anything," he said. "And so I continue and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped."

On Nov. 8, 2006, the civil case was settled confidentially and sealed.

The Associated Press last year asked the court to unseal the deposition. U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno agreed to the request and opened up a small portion of the deposition in July 2015.

That same year, Castor said the allegations in Constand's lawsuit were more serious than the account she had given to police, and if that information had been known at the time, "we might have been able to make a case."

Cosby was charged by the newly elected District Attorney Kevin Steele in December 2015 with drugging and sexually assaulting Constand. The three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault came just a few weeks before the 12-year statute of limitations would have expired.

Cosby faces up to 10 years in jail and a $25,000 fine if convicted. His criminal trial is set for June 5 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Cosby has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is free on $1 million bail.

Other sexual assault allegations involving Cosby were largely forgotten until 2014, when comedian Hannibal Buress joked about it at a standup show in Cosby's hometown of Philadelphia.

After that, dozens of women, including models Beverly Johnson and Janice Dickinson, came forward with their own allegations against Cosby. His attorneys issued denials when many of these allegations emerged.

Cosby is also facing defamation lawsuits, two of which he recently countered with his own civil suits.

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