MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa., Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Longtime comedian and television star Bill Cosby was formally charged Wednesday with felony sexual assault stemming from an alleged incident more than a decade ago, during which a woman claims she was drugged and abused at the actor's suburban Philadelphia home.
Cosby appeared in District Court Wednesday, wearing a sweatshirt and walking with the aid of a cane, to face the accusations. More than 40 women have claimed in recent years that they were assaulted by Cosby but Wednesday was the first time he was arraigned on such charges.
"Today, after examination of all the evidence, we are able to seek justice on behalf of the victim," Pennsylvania District Attorney Kevin Steele said at a news conference Wednesday morning.
Cosby faces the aggravated indecent assault charges for an alleged incident in 2004 involving Andrea Constand, a former Temple University women's basketball executive, court documents stated. With a statute of limitations of 12 years, Constand's case would not have been applicable by January 2016.
Attorneys for Cosby pledged to fight the charge, which they called "unjustified."
"The charge by the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office came as no surprise, filed 12 years after the alleged incident and coming on the heels of a hotly contested election for this county's DA during which this case was made the focal point," Cosby's attorneys said in a statement Wednesday. "Make no mistake, we intend to mount a vigorous defense against this unjustified charge and we expect that Mr. Cosby will be exonerated by a court of law."
According to the charging documents Wednesday, Constand reported multiple social interactions she had at the time with the 78-year-old Cosby, some of which involved what she described as forward and sexual advances toward her.
"Despite these advances by Cosby, the victim trusted him and continued to accept his invitations," the court document says.
During the night in question, the victim told police Cosby gave her what he said were three herbal pills and said they would help "take the edge off" for an emotionally taxed Constand. A short time later, she claimed, she became dizzy, her vision blurred and she struggled to speak. The document also says Constand claimed her legs felt weak and "rubbery."
"Despite her impaired physical and mental condition, the victim was aware that Cosby was fondling her breasts [and] put his hands into her pants," the charging document continues. "The victim told investigators she did not consent to any of these acts, and was unable to move or speak during the assault."
A while later, Constand claims, she awoke and was given a blueberry muffin by Cosby on her way out the door. Her parents, after hearing Constand's accusations, reported the incident to police nearly a year later.
Constand's mother also claims she had a phone conversation with Cosby around this time, during which he purportedly admitted to sexually touching her daughter. He also apologized for the incident and offered to pay for therapy, the court document states.
Constand, now a massage therapist in Canada, filed a civil lawsuit against Cosby in 2005, accusing the former Cosby Show star of assault for that alleged incident.
Detectives interviewed Cosby during a subsequent investigation by Pennsylvania authorities, the document states, and the actor claimed he gave Constand one and-a-half tablets of diphenhydramine, marketed commercially as Benadryl -- an antihistamine that often makes users drowsy.
This year, a newly released deposition from Cosby relating to the civil case revealed that he had, in fact, drugged women for sex. The comedian, however, claimed the sex was always consensual.
The civil suit was settled for an undisclosed sum in 2006.
Wednesday's arraignment is the result of sworn statements Cosby gave during the 2005 investigation that weren't unsealed until this past summer. Investigators reopened the case on July 10.
According to prosecutors, when Cosby was questioned under oath in 2005 he also admitted that he'd been given multiple prescriptions for the sedative Quaalude that he planned to give women he wanted to have sex with. The hypnotic drug, which was widely used recreationally in the 1970s and 1980s, was outlawed in the United States in 1984 and legitimate prescription access to it, due to its abuse potential and severely limited supply, was virtually nonexistent after the mid 1980s.
Prosecutors say Cosby's admission regarding the Quaaludes establishes a prior pattern of illegal predatory behavior. Another factor in the investigation, they added, is Cosby's conflicting accounts of what tablets he gave Constand on the night in question.
"Cosby's deliberate attempts to conceal the nature of the pills he supplied to his unsuspecting victim are inconsistent with innocent behavior and demonstrate his consciousness of guilt," the court document states. "Investigators recognize that individuals who are falsely accused of sexual assault generally do not unilaterally offer generous financial assistance, and apologies, to their accuser and their accuser's family.
"Contrary to his assertion that she consented to this conduct, she could not do so. She was rendered unable to speak or even move."