NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby’s defense team says the sexual assault case against him should be dismissed because prosecutors took more than a decade to file charges.
But those same prosecutors said during a pre-trial hearing today that it’s Cosby who’s benefitted from time.
“No man has benefited more from statutes of limitations than the one sitting over there,” Assistant District Attorney Robert Falin said, motioning toward Cosby. “He’s evaded criminal prosecutions all over the country thanks to expired statutes of limitations.”
The criminal charges Cosby is facing in Montgomery County are the only ones filed against him thus far. Though 60 women have come forward saying they were sexually assaulted by Cosby, most of those cases were outside the statute of limitations, or prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to move forward.
He faces charges of aggravated indecent assault in connection with a 2004 incident in Montgomery County involving Andrea Constand, who told authorities Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her. Those charges were filed days before the statute of limitations expired.
Judge Steven T. O’Neill has not yet ruled on the defense’ motion to dismiss the case.
This morning, Cosby’s defense attorneys argued the case against the comedian should be dismissed in its entirety because his right to due process was violated. They say prosecutors took more than a decade to file criminal charges against Cosby and in that time, he lost his eyesight rendering him unable to recognize potential accusers.
His lead attorney Brian McMonagle said this afternoon that during that time, Cosby’s former attorney Walter M. Phillips Jr. died. They say he’s the only witness who could have corroborated their claim that a former DA made a promise to not prosecute Cosby for the 2004 Constand incident.
Former District Attorney Bruce Castor testified earlier this year that he decided there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute Cosby in 2005. Instead, he says he asked Cosby to be deposed in a civil suit brought by Constand.
“The case was over,” McMonagle said. “It was over. And we all know it. And to run away from that, respectfully, is absurd.”
Cosby’s attorney Angela Agrusa said there’s no justification for the delay in bringing charges. Instead, the defense argued the delay stemmed from a change in leadership in the Montgomery County Office of the District Attorney and a recent election for DA when Cosby was a central issue.
Falin said the defense’ characterization that there was no new evidence is false. Prosecutors say they brought charges last year after the 2005 deposition from Constand’s civil suit was unsealed. In that deposition, Cosby admitted to giving Quaaludes to women before having sex with them.
“This was brand new,” Falin said. “Specifically, he never [before] admitted to using powerful drugs to have sex with women. And that’s a big deal.”
Agrusa said prosecutors should have been aware Cosby gave that 2005 deposition — there were news articles about it — and should have asked for a transcript of it sooner.
But the prosecutor argued the reasons for the delay were proper and that they couldn’t have reasonably been expected to discover the deposition before it was publicly unsealed in 2015, especially as it wasn’t clear there was anything incriminating in it.
“The DA’s office handles thousands of cases a year,” Falin said. “We can’t crack down and look at every headline and look for some sort of lead in a closed case.”
Cosby’s defense team is also claiming he’s been the victim of prejudice after being tried and convicted in the court of public opinion.
“He’s not a pawn,” Agrusa said. “My client is not a meme. He’s a human being. And his rights have been trampled on by ego and ambition.”
Additional hearing dates have been scheduled for mid-December. Cosby’s trial is scheduled for June.