A Pennsylvania judge on Tuesday refused to halt criminal proceedings against Bill Cosby linked to the sexual assault case filed by a former Temple University employee. The order will reportedly send the comedian’s sexual assault case to an evidence hearing.
Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill also asked the state Superior Court to review a key pretrial issue in the case filed by Andrea Constand, who accused Cosby of drugging and violating her at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. The case, which is the only one in which the 78-year-old faces criminal charges, could get him 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted.
Cosby’s lawyers reportedly claimed that the actor has a promise from a previous district attorney that no charges will be filed against him over the encounter. However, O'Neill found after a hearing this month that there was a lack of evidence in such an agreement.
The defense for Cosby urged O’Neill to reportedly approve an immediate appeal of the issue to the Supreme Court that would likely delay the scheduled March 8 preliminary hearing.
"An immediate appeal from these orders would not materially advance the ultimate termination of the matter," O’Neill wrote in a brief order.
According to the Associated Press, a spokesman for Cosby’s lawyers declined to comment on the decision.
Cosby’s lawyers have reportedly argued that the charges against the comedian have stemmed from a political feud between former District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr., who had declined to arrest Cosby a decade ago, and Kevin Steele, who filed the charges against him as he campaigned against Castor last fall.
Castor declined to prosecute Cosby in 2004 because of a lack of evidence, prompting Constand to sue the former television star in civil court. Castor had said there was an oral non-prosecution agreement worked out with Cosby’s former attorney Walter Phillips Jr., who died last year. However, Steele said there is no evidence an agreement exists in writing — something Cosby would need to have his case tossed.
More than 50 women have come forward accusing Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them over the decades. Cosby is currently facing several defamation lawsuits from some of his alleged victims.
The man formerly known as America’s favorite dad was formally charged late last year and is currently out on $1 million bail.