Comedian Bill Cosby arrived at a Pennsylvania courthouse on Monday for the start of a sexual assault trial, the culmination of years of allegations that have torpedoed his show business career.
Cosby, 79, once a beloved entertainer known for his family-friendly brand of comedy, is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. He faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault.
He smiled and nodded at journalists but did not speak when he arrived at the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas in Norristown, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia.
He walked into the court arm-in-arm with his former ‘Cosby’ co-star, Keshia Knight Pulliam.
The judge has allowed one other alleged victim to testify because prosecutors want to show Cosby had an M.O. The jury of 12 has 2 African-Americans.
If convicted he faces 30 years in prison.
Jurors for the trial have been brought from Pittsburgh at the request of defence lawyers.
Constand will appear as the prosecution’s key witness during the trial, which is expected to last two weeks. She is a former basketball player at Cosby’s Temple University alma mater and more than three decades his junior.
Out of dozens of similar allegations by women against Cosby over decades, Constand’s accusation is the only one to result in criminal charges. Cosby has denied ever assaulting anyone, saying the encounters with Constand and others were consensual.
It was Constand’s own civil lawsuit that eventually led the Montgomery County district attorney’s office to prosecute Cosby in 2015. She filed the lawsuit in 2005, weeks after that office declined to bring charges.
In what was then a sealed deposition, Cosby acknowledged he had obtained Quaaludes, a sedative, to give them to young women with whom he wanted to have sex. A federal judge released parts of the deposition in 2015, prompting prosecutors to reopen the case.
Constand has told investigators that she viewed Cosby as a mentor and that he plied her with wine and unidentified pills, leaving her unable to resist his sexual advances.
Defence lawyers will aim to undermine Constand’s credibility, asking why she failed to report the incident for a year and then could not recall certain details like the month when it occurred.
Prosecutors will also call a second accuser, whose name is not yet public, to bolster Constand’s testimony. The woman, known as Kacey, says Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in 1996.