Bill Cosby Charged With Sexual Assault

Charges stem from alleged 2004 incident in Pennsylvania

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Cosby; Charged
Bill Cosby has been charged with a crime for the first time in connection with an alleged sexual assault that occurred in 2004 KENA BETANCUR/Getty

Prosecutors have charged Bill Cosby in connection with a sexual assault alleged to have taken place in 2004, the Montgomery County District Attorney's office announced Wednesday.

This is the first time the 78-year-old comedian has been charged with a crime.

Cosby faces charges of aggravated indecent assault, a first degree felony, stemming from an incident that prosecutors say took place at his mansion in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania. 

His lawyer declined to comment to NBC News.  

The District Attorney said Cosby invited the victim into his home, where he plied her with wine and pills before assaulting her on his couch. 

The victim, who has publicly identified herself, is Andrea Constand, former director of operations for the women's basketball program at Temple University. 

In the criminal complaint, Constand said she viewed Cosby, whom she met through her work at the university, as a mentor, and that she came to his home that night to discuss her career plans. She said she told Cosby she was feeling "drained" and "emotionally occupied," and he offered her three blue pills to relax.

"These will make you feel good. The blue things will take the edge off," Constand recalled Cosby telling her.

After taking the pills with a glass of water and a few sips of wine, Constand said she lost all strength in her legs; they felt "rubbery...like jelly." Her vision became blurry, her mind dizzy, and she felt nauseous and "in and out" of consciousness as Cosby led her to a couch.

According to the complaint, "Cosby then fondled the victim's breasts, put his hands inside her pants, and penetrated her vagina with his fingers. During the assault, Cosby also put her hand on his erect penis."

Constand — who said she had rebuffed two previous sexual advances by the comedian —  told police she felt physically "frozen" and "paralyzed" as Cosby assaulted her. 

She reported the incident to police in February 2005. The former Montgomery County District Attorney announced the same month that he would not file charges against Cosby.

In a press release, former DA Bruce Castor said his office found "insufficient, credible, and admissible evidence exists upon which any charge against Mr. Cosby could be sustained beyond a reasonable doubt."

According to the sitting DA, additional evidence needed to charge the comedian surfaced for the first time in July of this year. 

In a statement to TMZ, Constand's lawyer thanked the DA and local police "for the consideration and courtesy they have shown Andrea during this difficult time." She added, "We have the utmost confidence in Mr. Steele, Ms. Feden and their team, who have impressed us with their professionalism."

At least 58 women have come forward to accuse Cosby of similar, often drug-aided assaults, including writer Sammie Mays and former Playboy bunny Sarita Butterfield, both of whom also spoke to TMZ after the DA's announcement.  

"I believe that now people are now seeing him for what he really is," Butterfield said. She added that she believes Camille Cosby should be charged as an accomplice. "If I could tell his wife something, I would tell her, 'Shame on you for being an accessory to his criminal act.'"

Mays told the site, "I nearly lost faith this day might never happen."

Director Judd Apatow, one of Cosby's fiercest entertainment industry-critics, tweeted his reaction to the announcement on Wednesday.

In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations on aggravated indecent assault is 12 years from the date of the incident. 

"A prosecutor's job is to follow the evidence wherever it leads and whenever it comes to light," Montgomery County's District Attorney-elect Kevin Steele said in a statement announcing the charges. "Upon examination of all of the evidence, today we are able to seek justice on behalf of Mr. Cosby's victim."

Cosby was arraigned at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday in a court in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. He posted 10 percent of his $1 million bail, surrendered his passport, agreed he would not contact Constand and was released. 

A preliminary hearing in the case is set for January 14, 2016 at 9 a.m.

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