NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A prosecutor who decided more than a decade ago not to bring sexual assault charges against Bill Cosby shut the investigation down while police were still working the case, a detective testified Thursday at the comedian’s trial.
District Attorney Bruce Castor abruptly closed the probe in 2005 hours after police met to review their next steps, Cheltenham police Sgt. Richard Schaffer told jurors in testimony that could blunt efforts by Cosby’s lawyers to argue that Castor, long out of office, saw no case.
“We had been discussing investigative leads and where they were going,” Schaffer, a witness for the prosecution, said on Day 4 of Cosby’s trial.
Cosby, 79, could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand, a former employee of Temple University’s women’s basketball program, at his suburban Philadelphia home. He has said the 2004 sexual encounter was consensual.
Cosby acknowledged in a 2005 police interview that he fondled Constand after giving her what he said were cold-and-allergy pills to help her relax, according to a statement introduced in court on Thursday. But he said that they had a romantic relationship and that she did not object to his advances.
Castor ended the investigation after four weeks, announcing that Cosby would not be charged because the evidence had shown both parties “could be held in less than a flattering light.” He said he was concerned that Constand had stayed in touch with Cosby and waited a year to call police.
A new set of prosecutors brought charges against Cosby in 2015, after a judge unsealed the comic’s testimony from a lawsuit brought against him by Constand. In his deposition, he talked about giving quaaludes and alcohol to women he wanted to have sex with.
Cosby’s lawyers have argued all along the charges should never have been brought because of Castor’s initial decision not to prosecute the TV star.
Constand, 44, of Toronto, testified this week that Cosby penetrated her with his fingers against her will after giving her pills that left her so limp that she was unable to push him away or tell him to stop. She denied they had a romantic relationship and said she had rebuffed his previous sexual advances.
Some 60 women have come forward to say Cosby sexually violated them, but the statute of limitations for prosecution had run out in nearly every case. Constand’s case is the only one in which Cosby has been charged.
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.
By MARYCLAIRE DALE and MICHAEL R. SISAK, Associated Press
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