Bill Cosby has been charged with aggravated indecent assault.
The comedian, accused of charges from a 2004 incident in Pennsylvania, was released on a $1 million bail. He did not enter a plea and has turned over his passport to the court, according to ABC7news.com.
If convicted, he could face a 10-year prison sentence and a $25,000 fine.
“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,” Monique Pressley, Cosby’s attorney, said in a statement. “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.”
The development comes just days ahead of the expiration of Pennsylvania’s statute of limitation of bringing charges.
Cosby has been accused of giving Temple University employee Andrea Constand pills and wine before he penetrated her with his fingers without her consent. Constand was not able to resist as she was drifting in and out of unconsciousness. Montgomery County District Attorney-elect, Kevin Steele, said, “She was “frozen, paralyzed, unable to move.” Cosby gave Constand Benadryl or another unidentified substance, according to the court papers.
A decade ago, Cosby had admitted having sexual contact with Constand; but he said that it was consensual. “I don’t hear her say anything. And I don’t feel her say anything. And so I continue and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped,” Cosby had testified. No criminal charges were brought against Cosby at the time. He and Constand settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
In light of damaging testimony unsealed in Constand’s related civil lawsuit against Cosby, and similar accusations brought by several other women, the case was reopened this summer. “Reopening this case was not a question. Rather, reopening this case was our duty as law enforcement officers,” Steele said, as reported by TIME.
Dozens of women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct in the past year. Last month, Cosby filed a defamation counter-suit in the U.S. District Court against seven of the accusers.