Bill Cosby has arrived at a suburban Philadelphia courthouse where a judge will decide whether to dismiss a sexual assault case against the
comedian. (Feb. 3) AP
Bill Cosby enters courthouse for Day 2 of hearing in his sexual-assault case, in Norristown, Pa., Feb. 3, 2016.(Photo: TRACIE VAN AUKEN, EPA)
NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Bill Cosby's first hearing in his criminal case resumed Wednesday, but an expected decision — on whether the sexual-assault charges will be tossed or proceed to trial — was delayed, at least temporarily, by the judge.
Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill had said he would rule Wednesday, but he decided after the lunch break he wanted to hear more testimony from Cosby's prosecutors, who are trying to persuade O'Neill not to toss the criminal charges against Cosby.
Testimony on Wednesday focused on the much-debated 2005 "no-prosecution" deal that Cosby says shields him from prosecution now.
Prosecutors argued that Cosby does not have a valid immunity deal and the ex-district attorney who testified he approved an immunity deal in an oral agreement 11 years ago has no credibility.
“A secret agreement that permits a wealthy defendant to buy his way out of a criminal case isn’t right,” declared current Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele.
Cosby's lawyers argued that prosecutors can and do make no-prosecution deals with defendants all the time, and those deals are binding on future prosecutors.
“This prosecution should be stopped in its tracks,” said Cosby lawyer Christopher Taybeck. "When a prosecutor gives his word, that’s something that is enforceable.”
Testimony on Day 2 focused on the decision 11 years not to put in writing an agreement between Cosby and the then-district attorney Bruce Castor not to prosecute him on criminal charges.
Cosby’s general counsel, John Schmitt, testified that he and Cosby were satisfied with the press release about the agreement, written and signed by Castor in 2005, as the documentation they needed to show Cosby would never be prosecuted. Plus, Schmitt said, he received numerous “oral assurances” from Castor that no charges could ever be filed.
Without these, Schmitt said, he would never have let Cosby sit for a deposition for a civil suit if there was a potential threat of criminal prosecution for what he said.
"Certainly not," Schmitt said.
Dolores Troiani, the lawyer for Andrea Constand, the accuser in the criminal case, also testified Wednesday, saying she was not informed of the Castor-Cosby no-prosecution deal and only learned about it via Castor's press release. She was surprised by its tone about her client.
“Basically, I had to read her this,” she said, “and it was a very harsh statement.”
Earlier, Cosby, again in a suit and tie, smiled and nodded at onlookers as security-assistants helped him walk up a ramp into the courthouse. Some supporters yelled, "We love you, Bill!" according to the Associated Press.
Bill Cosby gives double thumbs up as he leaves courthouse in Norristown, Pa., on Feb. 2 , 2016.(Photo: KENA BETANCUR, AFP/Getty Images)
Judge O'Neill said Wednesday, after seven hours of testimony on Tuesday, that he expected to decide today on Cosby's motion to dismiss the felony indecent assault charges filed by Steele in December, in connection with an encounter with ex-Temple University employee Constand at Cosby's home nearby in 2004.
Key witness to Bill Cosby: 'I'm not on your side'
Constand said Cosby drugged and raped her; Cosby said the encounter was consensual. Now, 12 years later, Steele hopes to use Cosby's own words about the encounter — from a recently released deposition in a civil suit Constand and Cosby settled in 2006 — to bolster his charges that Cosby committed a crime.
Before she filed her civil suit, Constand tried to pursue Cosby on criminal charges in 2005, but then-DA Castor declined to prosecute for lack of evidence.
According to his testimony Tuesday, Castor believed Constand had been molested by Cosby but he thought he couldn't prove it a year after the alleged crime. Also, he had doubts about Constand's credibility and thought her behavior in interviews with police was "inconsistent" with that of a rape victim, he said in testimony.
The former District Attorney who declined a decade ago to bring sex-crime charges against Bill Cosby testified Tuesday that he believes his decision shields the comedian from ever being prosecuted in the case. (Feb. 3) AP
Troiani's testimony Wednesday served to undercut some of Castor's reasons for his actions and inactions regarding Cosby and Constand 10 years ago. She dismissed Castor's stated reasons for not prosecuting Cosby, suggesting his real reasons were political since he was running for office at the time. Troiani said Castor likely didn’t want to “alienate fans of Dr. Huxtable,” Cosby’s character in The Cosby Show.
Anyway, she said, she didn't need Castor to promise Cosby not to prosecute to get Cosby to sit for a deposition in the civil suit; if he refused, she said, she could ask a judge to compel him.
Maria Puente reported from McLean, Va., and Brittany Horn of The News Journal reported from Norristown, Pa.