RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Comedian Bill Cosby has been charged with sexual assault, a felony that was formally announced within the last hour by the district attorney in Montgomery County, Pa. Cosby has faced numerous civil suits from dozens of women over the past few years, but this is the first criminal charge. NPR's Jeff Brady has been following this morning's events. Good morning.
JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Good morning.
MONTAGNE: Tell us more details about the charges. And especially, what is the victim alleging?
BRADY: Yeah, this case centers around a woman who was a former women's basketball administrator at Temple University, where Bill Cosby has long had strong connections. Andrea Constand says she considered Bill Cosby a friend and a mentor until she says he sexually assaulted her in 2004. The Montgomery County district attorney at the time didn't prosecute, saying the case was too weak back then. But in the decades since, dozens more women have come forward. Cosby admitted giving Quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with in a deposition made public last summer. And with that, new evidence, Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele announced the charge this morning. He laid out in a press conference what happened that night more than a decade ago that led to the charges today.
(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)
KEVIN STEELE: What we know is that pills were provided. There's inconsistencies on what type of pills they were. There was also wine that was provided. We then go to the reaction of the victim, you know, frozen, paralyzed, unable to - unable to move. A person in that state cannot give consent - therefore, the aggravated indecent charge.
BRADY: And Assistant DA Steele says that that information gives him enough to bring a strong case against Bill Cosby.
MONTAGNE: And Jeff, why though, today? You know, these - obviously been collecting evidence. What prompted them to do it today? I gather there's a statute of limitations that's involved.
BRADY: There is a statute of limitations, 12 years on this type of charge. So one reason is that that 12 years is coming to a close. The assault allegedly happened in 2004. So the charges needed to be filed soon. And, you know, this case became a big issue in the local DAs race here. The DA who originally failed to file those charges, he was running for office again, saying he would go after for Cosby if he were elected again. Kevin Steele, the assistant DA you just heard from there, he made prosecuting Cosby a big issue in the race and criticized the former DA for not filing charges in the past. Assistant DA Steele won that race, so it will be his office prosecuting the case in the new year.
MONTAGNE: And he's facing civil suits for some time, accused by dozens of women. He's been countersuing. How does this affect those suits?
BRADY: Yeah, those - those civil suits are out there. And this case, you know, has really been growing as it's received more attention. To date, Cosby has been accused by more than 50 women of sexual misconduct. And recently, he's started responding to those allegations by countersuing some of the accusers.
MONTAGNE: Well, just briefly, where to from here?
BRADY: He - Bill Cosby is scheduled to be arraigned before a Montgomery County judge this afternoon in Elkins Park. And the DA is asking for anyone who knows anything else to come forward with more information.
MONTAGNE: And that's NPR's Jeff Brady. Thanks very much.
BRADY: Thank you.
MONTAGNE: Bringing us the news that Bill Cosby was charged today with sexually assaulting a woman 12 years ago.
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