After a three-hour preliminary hearing, District Judge Elizabeth McHugh held entertainer Bill Cosby over for trial on charges he allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted former Temple employee Andrea Constand in 2004.
“Mr. Cosby, based on the evidence and testimony represented here today, I’m going to hold you on all charges,” she said at the end of the hearing, in which a statement Constand gave to detectives revealed new alleged details about that fateful night.
She then scheduled his formal arraignment for July 20, which he quickly waived.
Cosby was mum other than to say “thank you” to the judge for explaining the waiver.
“Good luck to you sir,” she said before ending the hearing.
“Thank you,” he replied. Cosby has denied Constand’s allegations as well as similar allegations from more than 50 women.
Constand did not testify nor were her attorneys in court. Instead, a detective read a statement she gave authorities in January 2005.
Afterward Dolores Troiani, one of her attorneys, expressed gratitude for the judge’s decision.
“We appreciate the hard work from the district attorney’s office and look forward to justice being served in the criminal justice system,” Troiani PEOPLE exclusively.
Brian McMonagle, Cosby’s attorney, issued a statement obtained by PEOPLE saying:
“Today, in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, 12 years after the alleged incident in question, the Commonwealth had an opportunity to put the complaining witness on the stand but refused. After hearing the weak, inconsistent and incredible evidence presented, it is clear why the prosecution did not allow its witness to speak and be confronted by the person she has accused. Instead, they chose to rely on an 11 year old hearsay statement from that witness, riddled with numerous corrections and inconsistencies.
“Through the complainant’s own written statements, admitted in court, the fact of multiple consensual sexual interactions was established. As was the fact that the complainant communicated with, returned to the home of, had dinner with and gave gifts to Mr. Cosby after the alleged assault occurred.
“Mr. Cosby is not guilty of any crime and not one single fact presented by the Commonwealth rebuts this truth. Though the Court decided the government reached the low threshold required for today’s preliminary hearing, we have no doubt this case ultimately will be resolved in Mr. Cosby’s favor.”
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center issued a statement, obtained by PEOPLE, which read:
“Today s ruling is a positive step forward for survivors everywhere. It underscores how critical it is that we give victims time and opportunity to heal while leaving options open for them to seek justice.
“We know that a delay in the reporting of a sexual assault has no bearing on the veracity of allegations; in fact, delayed reporting is normal and should be expected. It takes an incredible amount of courage for a survivor to come forward, and the level of attention surrounding a high-profile case makes it even more daunting to speak out, as victims fear the negative impact of media scrutiny and retaliation from the public or the accused.”
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele did not comment.
History of the Case
In February 2005, then Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr., decided not to charge Cosby for allegedly sexually assaulting Constand, now 43 and a massage therapist in Ontario.
Last summer, his successor reopened the case after Cosby’s deposition in the subsequent civil suit Constand filed against him – which he settled in late 2006 – became public.
In that deposition, taken over four days in 2005 and 2006, Cosby admitted he gave Quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with.
Newly elected Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele charged Cosby with the crime on December 30.
Cosby’s attorneys have been vigorously fighting to get the case dismissed, which is what delayed the preliminary hearing until Tuesday.
Constand’s Statement on the Fateful Night
After stumbling on his way into the courthouse shortly after 9 a.m., Cosby walked into the courtroom wearing a dark gray suit and holding onto the arm of his spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, as he walked. He was not carrying a cane as he has in previous court appearances.
Before the preliminary hearing started, Brian McMonagle, one of Cosby’s defense attorneys, challenged Steele’s decision not to have Constand testify, saying he had a constitutional right to face his accuser.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
However, Steele successfully argued that under Pennsylvania’s criminal rules of procedure, hearsay evidence is allowed and is enough to make a prima facie case at a preliminary hearing.
Steele put up two witnesses: former Montgomery County detective Katharine Hart, who read portions of a statement Constand gave to her in January 2005, and Cheltenham Township Police Department Chief John Norris, who read portions of the statement Cosby gave to him, also in 2005.
Cosby maintains their sexual contact was consensual, but Constand painted a different picture of their encounter in her statement to Hart.
She said Cosby invited her over to his home sometime between mid-January and mid-February 2004 to discuss a career crisis she was in the midst of. A former college basketball star, she was director of operations for the women’s basketball team at Temple University in Philadelphia at the time and had decided to become a massage therapist.
“He told me to wear comfortable clothes,” she told then-Detective Hart. “He told me no one else would be there.”
When she arrived there shortly before 9 p.m. they talked for about 10 to 15 minutes, she said.
“We were talking about my future and the changes in my life,” she said. “I mentioned to him this situation had drained me a little… I’d missed some sleep over it.”
She said she went to the bathroom and when she came back they continued their talk and Cosby allegedly urged her to drink some wine, which he’d poured into a glass.
“I told him I hadn’t eaten very much and didn’t want to drink the wine,” she said. “He said, ‘OK, you can drink or you can nurse it.’ ”
A few minutes later he allegedly disappeared upstairs and came back with three blue pills, she said.
He allegedly said, ‘These will make you feel good,’ ” she told authorities. “‘They will take the edge off.'”
After more alleged urging from him, she took the pills, along with some water, she said.
“I trust you,” she said before allegedly swallowing the pills.
After about 20 or 30 minutes, her vision started to blur, she said, adding: “I started to panic.”
He allegedly walked her over to the sitting room behind the dining room and laid her down on the sofa on her side, she said.
“I got scared,” she said. “I thought I was having a bad reaction to something. I had no strength in my legs. They felt rubbery and like jelly. I was a little spacey. Everything was blurry and dizzy. I felt nauseous. I remember I couldn’t keep my eyes open.”
She allegedly drifted in and out of consciousness that night, awaking to find him allegedly caressing her breasts and digitally penetrating her while he allegedly placed her hand on his erect penis, she said.
“I was unable to speak or move,” she said. “I was paralyzed.”
She awoke the next morning to Cosby allegedly in a bathrobe, making her tea and giving her a blueberry muffin before she left.
She went to his home one more time to confront him about what allegedly happened then went to authorities about it in January 2005.
Even though the judge cannot take a victim’s credibility into account when deciding whether there is enough evidence to hold a defendant over for trial, McMonagle did his best to hammer away at Constand’s credibility with what he says were conflicting statements she gave during the course of the original investigation in 2005.
He also questioned why she continued to keep in touch with him after the alleged incident, which Cosby maintains was consensual.
“There was no crime,” McMonagle said in his closing argument. “We have no business here.”
Steele said the pills Cosby gave Constand incapacitated her.
“When you do that to a person, they are not able to consent and that is a crime,” he told the judge. “That is throughout the case – the position he puts her in then takes advantage of it for his own gratification because he liked it. That’s what he did and that’s why he’s charged with a crime.”