Bill Cosby was charged Wednesday with drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at his home 12 years ago — the first criminal charge brought against the comedian out of the torrent of allegations that destroyed his good-guy image as America's Dad.
The case sets the stage for perhaps the biggest Hollywood celebrity trial of the mobile-all-the-time era and could send the 78-year-old Cosby to prison in the twilight of his life and barrier-breaking career.
Cosby was to be arraigned in the afternoon on a charge of aggravated indecent assault, punishable by five to 10 years behind bars and a $25,000 US fine.Prosecutors accused him of plying former Temple University employee Andrea Constand with pills and wine, then penetrating her with his fingers without her consent, while she was drifting in and out of consciousness, unable to resist or cry out.
First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele announced the charge against Cosby at the Montgomery County detective bureau, Wednesday in Norristown, Pa. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)
She was "frozen, paralyzed, unable to move," Montgomery County District Attorney-elect Kevin Steele said. In court papers, prosecutors said the drugs were the cold medicine Benadryl or some other, unidentified substance. Steele noted that Cosby has admitted giving Quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with.
Cosby acknowledged under oath a decade ago that he had sexual contact with Constand but said it was consensual. Calls to his attorneys were not immediately returned.
The charge came down just days before the 12-year statute of limitations for bringing charges was set to run out.