December 30, 2015, Bill Cosby was arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault based on the accusations of Andrea Constand that he allegedly drugged and digitally penetrated Constand with his finger in 2004 at his home in Cheltenham, PA.
Before the alleged incident occurred, Constand and Cosby had prior sexual encounters, that Constand originally did not report to the police.
Cosby, 79, who claims the incident was consensual, has denied all accusations of drugging and pled not guilty to three counts of felony sexual assault. If convicted, Cosby is facing up to 30 years in prison and remains free on $1 million bail. The trial is set to begin June 2017.
Let’s go back in time – In 2005, when Constand’s claims were being investigated, 13 accusers surfaced and authorities investigated their claims, and interviewed as many as 40 witnesses. The then District Attorney Bruce Castor delegated the investigation of the other 13 allegations to First Assistant District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman (who is now Judge Ferman, Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas). When asked about the accusations against William H. Cosby, Jr., in February 2005, former assistant District Attorney Ferman explained, “Generally, an accusation from over 30 years ago is not going to be considered admissible in court or relevant to an investigation.”
In 2005, Cosby’s attorney Walter M. Phillips Jr. called the charges “preposterous,” and former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor, Jr., citing “insufficient credible and admissible evidence,” after thoroughly investigating Constand’s claims, including interviewing other accusers, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office declined to bring charges against Cosby. Castor announced he was not prosecuting Cosby on Feb. 17, 2005 -the civil suit was filed three weeks later, on March 8, 2005. Castor said that without evidence to corroborate Constand’s story, criminal justice was not realistic. Castor said it was his plan to make it easy for Constand to win a civil suit against Cosby and to become a millionaire. Castor made that possible by taking away Cosby’s Fifth Amendment rights in the non-prosecution agreement with Cosby’s attorney in the event of “subsequent civil proceedings.” Constand filed a civil lawsuit against Cosby, settled in 2006, agreeing to forever release her right to initiate a criminal complaint against Cosby in any jurisdiction in exchange for settlement money.
Cosby’s lawyers said they settled in 2006 to protect his family and brand.
In 2015, Cosby’s attorney died. Phillips, a city, state, and federal prosecutor was known for his integrity and going after corrupt politicians and mobsters. A few months after his death, the civil deposition was wrongfully released by a federal judge and the then District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, who worked on the case in 2005, reopened the investigation with the help of her successor Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele, claiming that the newly-available deposition transcripts “triggered the renewed investigation.”
The Commonwealth claims that the transcripts contained three pieces of “new information” not known during its 2005 investigation. However, Cosby’s attorneys argue that the Commonwealth had that exact information in 2005 and that former District Attorney Ferman and the Commonwealth had access to obtain the transcripts in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 but chose not to consider bringing charges while Cosby’s attorney was still alive.
John P. Schmitt, the attorney who represented Cosby in the 2005 civil case, released this statement after the sealed deposition was released, “Nothing in the single deposition recently released lends any support to, much less “confirms,” any such allegations. Nothing in his testimony admits to any non-consensual sexual contact with any woman whatsoever. As you know, Mr. Cosby has steadfastly maintained his innocence.”
Cosby’s attorneys Brian McMonagle and Angela Agrusa have argued that Cosby should never have been arrested, citing the 2005 non-prosecution agreement between Castor and Cosby’s deceased attorney Phillips, Jr. They have argued to have charges dismissed several times, citing his due process rights and/or to disqualify Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office. The due process clauses of the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions stand “as a safeguard against” just the sort of “fundamentally unfair prosecutorial conduct,” defined in Oxford dictionary’s definition of due process: “Fair treatment through the normal judicial system, especially a citizen’s entitlement to notice of a charge and a hearing before an impartial judge…it protects against the arbitrary treatment of an individual.”
Judge Steven O’Neill is presiding over the case and has rejected many requests from Cosby’s defense team. The most recent on Wednesday, the judge denied Cosby’s attempt to dismiss his sexual assault case and rejected his request for competency testing of the 13 accusers who want to testify against him. The judge will soon rule on whether he will allow the wrongfully released deposition in as evidence and if he will allow the Commonwealth to use 13 accusers, whose claims were never reported to authorities, as 404b witnesses.
Some of these are the same accusers who came forward in 2005 and still are without any evidence, physical or any kind whatsoever to support their decades-old claims.
The strength of the prosecution’s case mostly relies on whether Cosby’s deposition is shown to jurors and just how it is shown to the jurors – for example, not cherry-picked, misleading statements as was done in the media; and how many of the other accusers can testify against him.
Cosby’s attorneys said in a motion, ‘the Commonwealth knows that the charges brought against William H. Cosby, Jr., based on the conflicting, changing and ultimately unbelievable, allegations of Andrea Constand, are insufficient to obtain a conviction against Mr. Cosby. Thus, it has resorted to the prejudicial and extraordinarily difficult maneuver of attempting to try its case against Mr. Cosby based on accusations of third parties-the alleged “prior bad acts” witnesses. The Commonwealth considered this tactic back in 2005, after authorities investigated the claims of other accusers and interviewed as many as 40 witnesses, but rejected it when Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor, Jr. and First Assistant District Attorney Ferman, now a Judge of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, with over 50 years of prosecutorial experience between them, concluded that the charges by Ms. Constand were far too weak and the decades-old tales of other accusers were far too unreliable to be admissible.” Cosby’s lawyers are fighting to show each woman’s testimony is not relevant to Constand’s claims and not part of a pattern of criminal behavior.
“No court in Pennsylvania has ever admitted evidence of prior conduct extending back twenty, thirty, and almost forty years as the Commonwealth seeks to do here, followed by “since none of the proposed witnesses’ allegations are identical to Ms. Constand’s, there are no grounds to admit the evidence of alleged prior acts.”
10 of the 13 accusers that may be called to testify are represented by one lawyer, Gloria Allred who, before approaching current District Attorney Kevin Steele, sought to get Cosby to pay her clients $100 million. December 2014, Allred arrives onstage to usher as many of Cosby’s accusers as possible into the spotlight, trying to recruit new clients calling some of them at home “on Sundays wanting [them] to sign with her” after they declined her services. Even though Allred has no pertinent legal advice to offer, given that the statute of limitations for their decades-old claims had long since run-she parades her clients’ “drugging” claims before the press.
For the list of the 13 accusers the Commonwealth wants to use against Cosby, some do not provide specific dates and or locations and ten out of the thirteen didn’t come forward until after Allred began her highly publicized media campaign against Cosby. The other three were interviewed during the 2005 investigation and turned away as unreliable.
- Sometime in the early 1970s: Accuser No. 1, Allred’s client Alexandra Dedick (now 68), woke up alone in a hotel in New York or a club in New Jersey (she is not sure) after a night of “plenty of drink” and marijuana, not remembering whether she had sex the night before.
- 1984: Accuser No. 2, Heidi Thomas (now 57), alleges that she accepted an offer from her modeling agent to spend a few nights alone with Mr. Cosby in Reno, Nevada. She claims that on the first evening, while rehearsing an acting scene with Mr. Cosby, she drank a glass of white wine. After that, she has memory lapses, but claims to remember Mr. Cosby forcing his penis into her mouth. She stayed with him in Reno for another three days after that, and later paid her own way to St. Louis to see him again.
- 1982: Accuser No. 3, Allred ‘s client Janice Baker-Kinney (now 58), alleges that she and a friend went to a house where Mr. Cosby was staying in Reno, Nevada, where she voluntarily took two Quaaludes. She now claims that after passing out, she woke up naked the next day unsure whether she had sex with Mr. Cosby.
- 1976: Accuser No. 4, Therese Serignese (now 59), has admitted that on a first date with Mr. Cosby, she voluntarily took Quaaludes and later “came-to” while having sex with him. She then proceeded to have what is best described as a long-term affair, or at a minimum friendly contact, with him over the next twenty years. She recently changed the story she has repeatedly told the authorities and the media, testifying under oath that he never told her what the pills he offered her were. November 2014: Ms. Serignese tells People Magazine that, in the mid- 1970s, Mr. Cosby gave her two pills and a glass of water backstage in a Las Vegas hotel. “The pills, she says, were Quaaludes. ‘He identified what they were; that’s how I knew’, she says.”
- 1981: Accuser No. 5, Allred’s client Linda Kirkpatrick (now 60), alleges that she met Mr. Cosby at a tennis tournament in Las Vegas, and met up with him later that evening backstage at one of his shows. She admits to having trouble remembering what happened that evening except that she recalls him “forcefully” attempting to kiss her. She admits, though, that she went back to his comedy show the following night, where she claims that he again made an aggressive pass and tried to hug and kiss her, which she again says she rebuffed.
- 1990s: Accuser No. 6, Allred ‘s client Kelly Johnson (now 55), alleges that Mr. Cosby coerced her into kissing him under the pretense of acting lessons, and then in a subsequent visit, he gave her a pill, and she remembers some lotion and touching but has no memory of having sexual intercourse with Mr. Cosby.
- 1975: Accuser No. 7, Allred ‘s client Margie Shapiro (now 60), alleges she met Mr. Cosby at the Santa Monica, California donut shop where she worked the early morning shift and then accompanied him to the Playboy Mansion, where she voluntarily took a drug after losing a game of pin ball. She now claims that at some point in the evening she “woke up” to having sex with him.
- 1986: Accuser No. 8, Allred’s client Stacey Pinkerton (now 52), alleges that she met Mr. Cosby and his personal assistant when they were passengers on a flight while she was working as a flight attendant. After in-flight flirting, she accepted an invitation to meet Mr. Cosby in Chicago. She does not admit to drinking anything offered by him or taking any drug offered by him, but claims that at some point in the evening she blacked out as he violently sexually assaulted her. While she later recounted to a friend that Mr. Cosby had made an aggressive pass at her, it has not been until this year that she claims the attempted pass was violent rape.
- 1989 or 1990: Accuser No. 9, Allred’s client Lise-Lotte Lublin (now 50), alleges that she had a drink with Mr. Cosby in his Las Vegas hotel suite and then dizzily fell asleep to him petting her hair. She woke up at home the next day and remembers nothing. Now, 26 years later, after hearing the stories of other accusers, she has come to believe that she thinks she must have been drugged and assaulted.
- 1971: Accuser No. 10, Allred ‘s Client Donna Motsinger (now 75), alleges that she met Mr. Cosby in Sausalito, California, went with him to one of his comedy shows, started to feel sick after drinking wine in the limousine, took what she thought was an aspirin provided to her by someone other than Mr. Cosby, and then claims to have awoken in her own home in her underwear. She has no recollection of any sexual contact with Mr. Cosby, perhaps because “it was quite a while ago,” as she concedes.
- 1986: Accuser No. 11, Allred’s client Rebecca Cooper Neal (now 61), alleges that after interacting with Mr. Cosby for several weeks at the Las Vegas health club where she worked, he invited her to watch him perform and then have dinner, where she was served a single shot of vodka by a waiter. After beginning to feel dizzy, she alleges she went back to his dressing room, where he had sex with her.
- August or September, 1969: Accuser No. 12, Allred’s client Linda Johnson (a/k/a Linda Brown) (now 68), alleges that her former employer offered her a ticket to Mr. Cosby’s comedy show when another fellow model could not make it, went to dinner with him after the show and ended up back in his Toronto hotel, where she blacked out after taking one (or two, by another account sip(s) of soda and awoke to being sexually assaulted. In a second later statement, she alleges for the first time that he also “digitally penetrated” her.
- “I think it was 1969 but I can’t be certain”: Accuser No. 13, Cindra Ladd (now 68), alleges that after establishing a friendship with Mr. Cosby, wherein he would pay for her marijuana and cocaine, she took a clear pill from him for a headache, went to a movie and walked through the streets of New York in a dreamlike state with him, until she awoke in his friend’s apartment uncertain whether they had sex.
- January 2004: Andrea Constand (now 43) alleges that after several prior occasions of intimacy spent with Mr. Cosby, including an overnight stay at Foxwoods Resort & Casino, Mr. Cosby offered her medication to relax her nerves, which she took voluntarily. She claims the medication incapacitated her while he allegedly “digitally penetrated” her. A year after the alleged encounter, after numerous telephone conversations, a dinner, and attendance at one of his shows with her family, she initiated a criminal investigation, generating major publicity.
Judge O’Neill promises to rule before the next pretrial hearings scheduled for next month on whether Cosby’s depositions from his settled civil suit may be used in his criminal case. In a statement, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele said, “The Judge’s rulings today get us one step closer to presenting our evidence at trial and furthers our pursuit of justice for the victim in our case.” Cosby’s trial is scheduled to begin in June.