Bill Cosby Has Been Charged with Sexual Assault

Just weeks before the 12-year statute of limitations was due to expire.

Update 3:15 p.m., 12/30: Cosby arrived (opens in new tab) in court this afternoon for his arraignment in Pennsylvania. He relinquished his passport and will next appear in court in just over two weeks. His bail has been set at $1 million. For now, he has not entered a plea. 

Original post, 12/30: Prosecutors in Montgomery County in Pennsylvania announced (opens in new tab) this morning that Bill Cosby will be tried in court for sexual assault. Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman has ruled that Cosby will be charged with aggravated indecent assault, a first-degree felony. 

Former Temple University employee Andrea Constand told police that the comedian had drugged and raped her at his Pennsylvania home in 2004, but a previous district attorney decided not to bring  a case against Cosby in 2005. 

A new investigation, however, prompted officials to reconsider the ruling. Prosecutors said that Cosby gave Constand three blue pills and wine at his house, drugging her. She told (opens in new tab) law enforcement that she felt "paralyzed" and "frozen" during the attack. Over the summer, unsealed federal court documents revealed that Cosby admitted (opens in new tab) he drugged women to have sex with them. Dozens of women have since come forward to accuse the icon of sexual assault, suggesting a decades-long habit of aggravated abuse. 

While many of the victims have been outspoken about their experiences, the statue of limitations for almost all of them has expired, barring prosecutors from bringing Cosby to court. But Pennsylvania law grants up to 12 years to make formal charges in sex crime cases—a clock that would have run out (opens in new tab) in just a few weeks.

"Reopening this question was not a question," said a representative of the court at a press conference. "Reopening this case was our duty as law-enforcement officers." 

Bill Cosby will be arraigned this afternoon. 

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Mattie Kahn is a writer who lives in New York. She covers politics, style, culture, and dangerous women. As far as she's concerned, candidates come and go, but the Oxford comma is forever.