Comedian Bill Cosby was charged on Wednesday with sexually assaulting a woman in 2004 after plying her with drugs and alcohol, marking the first criminal case against a once-beloved performer whose father-figure persona was already left tattered by dozens of misconduct accusations.
An arrest warrant was issued for Cosby, 78, as the charge was filed in Pennsylvania just before the statute of limitations deadline for a criminal prosecution was to expire in January. The charge stems from allegations brought by the woman, who settled a civil case against Cosby for an undisclosed sum in 2006.
Cosby was to be arraigned at 2:30 p.m. EST before a magisterial district judge in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia. His whereabouts following Steele’s announcement were not immediately known.
“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 a news conference. Steele made a campaign issue of his intent to prosecute Cosby.
The alleged victim in the case, Andrea 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.
Neither Cosby nor his representatives could be reached for comment. He and his lawyers, while acknowledging marital infidelity on Cosby’s part, have consistently denied allegations of sexual misconduct.
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.