Big news this week, as I’m sure you’ve already heard – charges were officially filed against Bill Cosby for “aggravated indecent assault“. But what you may not have heard, and is pretty remarkable for the circumstances of this case, is the deadline prosecutors had for doing so.
Here is the timeline:
2004: Now 12 years ago, Andrea Constand originally claimed Cosby had raped her. At the time, prosecutors for Montgomery County, PA declined to press criminal charges. Since then, numerous other women have stepped forward (many in CA, which becomes relevant later); however, prosecutors continued to withhold from pursuing any criminal action.
2014: A year ago, the Associated Press filed a motion to intervene in order to unseal documents related to the Constand lawsuit. From this came the infamous Cosby Deposition, during which he admitted to purchasing Quaaludes to give to women he wanted to have sex with, and to giving them to at least one woman. Constand claimed to have been one such woman.
December 2015: Pennsylvania prosecutors finally file criminal charges.
So, what changed? Well, for one thing, the statute of limitations…
All states have a statute which limits the amount of time one has to bring certain charges, including crimes. Often, these vary depending on the seriousness of the charge (e.g. murder has no limitation, whereas many misdemeanors must be brought within 1 year). In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations on major sexual offenses (including aggravated sexual assault) is 12 years – – I’ll give you a second to process that – – and prosecutors had only 2 days left to file charges against Cosby for the sexual assault of Constand.
In California, the statute of limitations is much shorter. So, for all of those other cases I had mentioned, there was little the local prosecutors could have done. But in PA, it’s a different story. So what really has been going on all of these years?
There is no doubt about the level of celebrity involved with this case, including a long-standing legacy of comedy, family, and public moral taught by Mr. Huxtable. And so, perhaps reminiscent of the O.J. Simpson trial, prosecutors must surely have been cautious in approaching such a charge. But while it’s often said “better late than never” (and in many cases that may be true), I can’t help but hope for justice, no matter the fame of the defendant.
If he is innocent, or guilty, let it be decided by a competent court – not by social media, T.V. news, or YouTube comedians.