Bill Cosby was charged Wednesday with sexually assaulting a woman at his home 12 years ago. It is a first-degree felony.
“In bringing the case, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman overruled her predecessor, who declined to charge Cosby in 2005 when Temple University employee Andrea Constand first told police that the comic drugged her and violated her by putting his hands down her pants at his mansion in suburban Philadelphia,” the Associated Press reports.
Cosby was charged with aggravated indecent assault, punishable by five to 10 years behind bars and a $25,000 fine, the AP reported.
“Prosecutors accused him of rendering former Temple University employee Andrea Constand unable to resist by plying her with pills and wine, then penetrating her digitally without her consent, when she was unconscious or unaware of what was happening,” according to the report.
The stunning legal action comes after dozens of women lodged allegations against Cosby, beloved for his avuncular role as the wise Dr. Huxtable on the 1980s hit “The Cosby Show.” Numerous organizations including Atlanta’s Spelman College have moved to distance themselves from Cosby as the story has unfolded.
Earlier this year Spelman announced it had canceled a professorship associated with Cosby and returned the money. The Cosbys’ association with Spelman has been one of their longest, most generous, and perhaps the most prestigious.
Two Cosby daughters attended Spelman. Their parents Camille and Bill Cosby donated $20 million to the college in the late 1980’s. At the time it was the largest ever personal gift to a historically black college or university. The family’s money helped fund a new academic center housing state-of-the art classrooms, labs and a fine arts museum; as well as the endowed professorship
Cosby’s legal team launched an aggressive defense long before today’s charges were announced. He has sued a number of his accusers including supermodel Beverly Johnson, one of the dozens of women who have accused him of sexual assault. The suit claims Johnson lodged the allegations to jump-start her career.
The “false allegations against Mr. Cosby have been the centerpiece of her attempted resurgence and she has played them to the hilt, repeatedly and maliciously publishing the false accusations in articles, interviews, and television appearances,” Cosby’s lawsuit states.
Johnson, who in 1974 became the first African American woman to appear on the cover of American Vogue, saidin a piece in Vanity Fair that Cosby drugged her about 30 years ago.
“My head became woozy, my speech became slurred, and the room began to spin nonstop,” she wrote. “Cosby motioned for me to come over to him as though we were really about to act out the scene. He put his hands around my waist, and I managed to put my hand on his shoulder in order to steady myself.”
Cosby’s legal action against her was the latest lawsuit against accusers.
Earlier this month, just as Boston University announced it had stripped Cosby of an honorary degree bestowed upon him last year amid uproar over allegations, the comedian filed suit against seven women, claiming they have made “malicious, opportunistic, false and defamatory accusations of sexual misconduct against him.”
“The comedian is claiming emotional distress against Tamara Green, Therese Serignese, Linda Traitz, Louisa Moritz, Barbara Bowman, Joan Tarshis and Angela Leslie … claiming the allegations of drugging and then sexually assaulting them is flatly untrue,” TMZ reported.