New Pennsylvania prosecutor could be first to charge Cosby: experts

Wed Nov 4, 2015 6:26pm EST
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By Laila Kearney

(Reuters) - A newly elected suburban Pennsylvania prosecutor could be positioned to bring the first criminal charges of sex assault against comedian Bill Cosby, though the clock is ticking, legal experts said on Wednesday.

Kevin Steele, a Democrat, on Tuesday defeated opponent Bruce Castor, a Republican, in the race for district attorney in Montgomery County, where Cosby's first named accuser filed a 2005 complaint against the actor.

The statue of limitations runs out in January on that case, in which the woman claimed Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in his mansion in 2004.

In the weeks leading up the election, in which Steele won 50.33 percent of the vote while Castor received 49.67 percent, both men said they would work to charge Cosby if elected.

Experts on Wednesday said the action would likely come easier than it did a decade ago, when the district attorney declined to file charges citing weak evidence.

"In some ways this case had gotten stronger in the last 10 years," said Matthew Galluzzo, a former sex crimes prosecutor and current defense lawyer in New York.

In the years since the complaint by Andrea Constand, Cosby has been bombarded with accusations of sexual assault by more than 50 women, many of whom contend the actor slipped them sedatives before assaulting them.

The charges shocked Cosby's fans and crushed his reputation as an entertainer and wholesome father figure, but he has never been criminally charged and has denied the accusations. A spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.   Continued...

Actor Bill Cosby speaks at the National Action Network's 20th annual Keepers of the Dream Awards gala in New York April 6, 2011.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/files