Entertainer Bill Cosby has long maintained that his extramarital conquests were consensual. A jury may ultimately decide if that's true after the 78-year-old actor was arrested yesterday on felony assault charges in suburban Philadelphia stemming from a 2004 encounter with a former Temple University employee less than half his age, reports the Associated Press. The case marks the first time Cosby has been charged criminally with sexual misconduct despite years of lurid allegations, and it sets the stage for perhaps the biggest Hollywood celebrity trial of the mobile-news era. Prosecutors armed with new evidence believe his accuser, Andrea Constand, was too impaired by the pills and wine Cosby gave her to consent to sexual activity at his home. “On the evening in question, Mr. Cosby urged her to take pills that he provided, and to drink wine, the effect of which rendered her unable to move or to respond to his advances,” said incoming Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele.
A key question if the case goes to trial is whether the judge will allow testimony from other Cosby accusers to show a pattern of “bad acts.” The judge could decide such testimony would be unfair to Cosby. Former District Attorney Bruce Castor declined to charge Cosby when Constand first made her charges. She settled a lawsuit against Cosby in 2006 on confidential terms. Cosby's lawyer noted yesterday that the charges come “on the heels of a hotly contested election” for DA in which the handling of the Cosby case became a major issue. Castor was seeking to reclaim his job as DA but lost to Steele.