Bill Cosby has been arraigned and will remain free on $1 million bail after being charged with sexual assault in Pennsylvania on Wednesday.
The charge stems from claims made by former Temple University employee Andrea Constand, who alleges that she was assaulted in 2004. Constand had previously sued Cosby, but settled the civil suit with the comedian.
On Wednesday, Cosby was charged with criminal sexual assault. Kevin Steele, the first assistant district attorney and incoming D.A. in Montgomery County in Pennsylvania, said Cosby faces a felony charge of aggravated indecent assault.
Though the statute of limitations for such a charge is 12 years, the prosecutor reopened the case this summer. Evidence stemming from Constand’s related civil case will be used, and similar allegations from dozens of purported Cosby victims was also weighed in the decision making, Steele said Wednesday.
In the past year, the 78-year-old comedian has been accused of rape or sexual assault by dozens of women. In addition to the criminal charge filed Wednesday, Cosby faces multiple lawsuits from his accusers. The comedian has also faced a number of career setbacks, such as NBC shelving a comedy project that it was developing for the comedian, and Netflix postponing a Cosby special.
Cosby’s former attorney, Martin Singer, has denied the charge against the comedian in the past.
Attorneys Joseph Cammarata and Michael Bressler, who represent other women accusing Cosby of defamation in a pending federal lawsuit, released a statement about the arraignment on Wednesday evening.
“We are pleased that the Montgomery County prosecutor has determined to seek justice on behalf of Ms. Constand. We believe that the filing of the criminal charges will aide in the disclosure of valuable information regarding the behavior of Mr. Cosby, and will validate the claims of those dozens of woman who have publicly declared that Mr. Cosby has also abused them,” the statement said.
“These events are also a tragedy for the Cosby family, and for the families of each of the women who allege that they have been sexually abused by Mr. Cosby,” the statement continued. “The decision to charge Mr. Cosby is another link in the chain that demonstrates that the brave women who have spoken out are telling the truth. We look forward to the conclusion of the criminal case and the implementation of justice.”
Cosby’s next court hearing is scheduled for Jan. 14.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.