It looks more and more like Bill Cosby will stand trial on charges of sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. Both Constand and Cosby have past association with Temple University: Constand was a former employee and Cosby an undergraduate student and a star athlete.
After graduating from Temple, Cosby would go on to become a world famous TV star. He rose to prominence in his role as a detective on the I Spy series and gained international fame portraying Dr. Cliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show. For years Cosby was heralded as an ideal role model and dubbed America’s Dad.
Over the past few years disgrace has steadily descended upon the 78-year old entertainer: by some accounts, an excess of 50 women have come forth to allege that Cosby engaged in unsolicited inappropriate sexual behavior with them. Many claim, as does Andrea Constand, that he drugged and then abused them. These alleged sexual improprieties span a period of decades. “The Statute of Limitations has expired in most of the cases against him,” according to a recent release by the Associate Press.
The Constand case first came to the attention of legal authorities in 2004. Then district attorney of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Bruce Castor, refused to prosecute Cosby for lack of evidence. Andrea Constand subsequently brought civil suit against Cosby: the suit was settled in 2006, and the terms of the settlement were sealed. It is reported that at that time District Attorney Castor gave verbal assurance to Cosby that no criminal charges would be brought against him in the matter.
However, in 2015, after a contentious election, Kevin Steele won the district attorney seat over Castor. During the campaign season, Steele pledged that if elected he would file criminal charges against Cosby. In December, the new district attorney kept his pledge, filling charges just days before the Statute of Limitations deadline.
Cosby’s legal team argued for these charges to be dropped based on Castor’s earlier assurance that their client would not be prosecuted on the assault allegation. However, on February 2, Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill rejected this argument, and a week later refused to grant an appeal of his decision. And so unless additional attempts at an appeal are made, the case may soon be scheduled for an evidence hearing. If the once renowned TV dad is eventually convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.
Tom Werner, producer of The Bill Cosby Show, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, described the show as “a groundbreaking show [that] portrayed a middle-class African American family in a very positive way.” He said that the series “had a lot of stories that resonated with families because people watched it together.” And he indicated that despite the troubled days ahead for Bill Cosby, he hopes “that people will still be able to watch the show and identify with the Huxtables.”