A frail-looking Cosby, 78, walking with a cane and accompanied by two lawyers, appeared for his arraignment hours later at a courthouse just outside Philadelphia, where he posted a $1 million bond, turned over his passport and was ordered to avoid any contact with his accuser.
Smiling and politely thanking District Court Judge Elizabeth McHugh at the end of the brief proceeding, Cosby left the Elkins Park courthouse and was driven to a nearby police precinct to be finger-printed and booked.
He emerged from the police station 10 minutes later and was whisked away in the same black sport utility vehicle that had delivered him to the courthouse. He made no statements as a throng of reporters shouted questions at him.
He is due to return to court on Jan. 14 for a preliminary hearing.
The case against Cosby was filed just before the statute of limitations deadline for criminal prosecution was due to lapse in January. The charge stems from allegations levelled by Andrea Constand, 44, who settled a civil case against Cosby for an undisclosed sum in 2006.
“Today, after examination of all the evidence, we are able to seek justice on behalf of the victim,” Kevin Steele, the newly elected district attorney for Montgomery County, told an earlier news conference. Steele made a campaign issue of his intent to prosecute Cosby.
Constand, a former basketball team manager at Temple University in Philadelphia, Cosby’s alma mater, is one of more than 50 women who have publicly accused the star of sexually assaulting them in incidents dating back decades.
Cosby did not enter a plea in Wednesday’s case. But he and his lawyers, while acknowledging marital infidelity on his part, have consistently denied any allegations of sexual misconduct.
His legal team issued a statement late on Wednesday calling the sexual assault charge “unjustified,” suggesting it was politically motivated and declaring Cosby “will be exonerated by a court of law.”
The prosecution came as no surprise, his attorneys said, given that it followed a “hotly contested” election for district attorney in which “this case was made the focal point.”
Cosby, who personified the model American family man in his long-running hit television show, was charged with aggravated indecent assault, a second-degree felony carrying a maximum penalty of 5 to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.