Veteran prosecutors were puzzled by the promise by former Montgomery County, Pa., District Attorney Bruce Castor never to prosecute comedian Bill Cosby, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Such deals rarely happen, prosecutors said, simply because it is impossible to know what new information might emerge. When the deals do emerge, they said, it is critical to get the agreement in writing. Castor testified Tuesday on the aggravated indecent-assault charge against Cosby that his 2005 announcement not to file criminal charges amounted to a pledge that his office, and his successors, had dropped the case forever. The agreement not to prosecute was not in writing.
Yesterday, Judge Steven O’Neill ruled that the promise was not legally binding, and ordered that the criminal case proceed to a preliminary evidentiary hearing. Thomas Bergstrom, a former assistant U.S. attorney and one of Philadelphia’s most prominent criminal defense lawyers, said that in all of his career, both as a government prosecutor and as a defense lawyer, he had never been party to such an offer. “Prosecutors by and large typically do not make agreements to not prosecute,” Bergstrom said. “That is really extraordinary.”