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Courts & Trials

Bill Cosby’s Sex Assault Investigation Was Abruptly Shut Down in 2005, Detective Testifies

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A Pennsylvania detective testified yesterday that he and other investigators were still pursuing leads in Bill Cosby‘s sexual assault case in 2005 when then-Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr., abruptly issued a press release announcing he was terminating the investigation.

“I recall discussing that things we’d discovered just that morning,” Richard Schaffer, a former Cheltenham Township detective, testified Wednesday about Feb. 17, 2005, the day of Castor’s decision.

Schaffer, a prosecution witness and now a sergeant who was also involved with the case when it was reopened in July 2015, read portions of the statement Cosby gave to him and other police on Jan. 26, 2005, as well as Constand’s various statements to police.

There were no surprises in much of his testimony because most of the information had been revealed at prior hearings or in court documents filed in the case.

But the exact chain of events that led to Castor’s declining to prosecute Cosby in 2005 has been cloaked in secrecy for more than 12 years and has become part of Cosby’s defense and an underlying theme of the current case. (Castor could not immediately be reached for comment.)

Schaffer’s testimony marked the first time anyone in law enforcement who was involved with the case revealed the investigation was still going on the day Castor announced his decision.

Bill Cosby
AP Photo/Matt Rourke, Pool

At the time, Castor issued a press release saying there was “insufficient credible and admissible evidence” to proceed with a criminal charge. In a press conference after his investigators interviewed Cosby, he’d told reporters Cosby was “fully cooperative” and that he had not yet determined Constand’s credibility.

“We punish people for intentional or reckless criminal conduct,” Castor said at the time. “We don’t punish people for making mistakes and doing stupid things. The dividing line between intentional or reckless criminal conduct and making a stupid or foolish mistake is one of the more difficult decisions a prosecutor has to make. “

Cosby, 79, is on trial for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand, now 44, at his Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, mansion in January 2004. Cosby has pleaded not guilty to the charges, insisting their sexual contact was consensual, and has denied similar allegations from more than 60 women. Constand, who is gay, says it was not.

Schaffer spent about two-and-a-half hours on the stand. Defense Attorney Brian McMonagle, who spent much of his opening argument Monday emphasizing Castor’s decision not to prosecute in 2005, cross-examined him, highlighting the different dates Constand initially gave to investigators about when the alleged assault occurred. 

Bruce Castor
Matt Rourke/AP

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Cosby was expressionless through most of the testimony but appeared to be paying close attention when Schaffer and Ryan read portions of his statement to the jury.

At one point he nodded then shook his head in reaction to his own responses in the statement.

The first and only other witness of the day was Purna Rodman Conare, a former friend and neighbor of Constand’s who lived in the same condominium building she did in Philadelphia.

He said he noticed changes in Constand’s behavior after the alleged drugging and sexual assault.

“She became a little more distant,” he said.

While once they had gotten together at least twice a week, that became much less frequent after the allege assault, he said.

Prosecutors late Thursday began introducing portions of Cosby’s 2005 and 2006 depositions in Constand’s long-settled civil suit against him, and they will resume with that tomorrow.

The prosecution expects to wrap its portion of the trial on Friday.