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Cosby seeking defense lawyer for Pennsylvania criminal probe

23 September 2015, 10:13

Philadelphia — Comedian Bill Cosby is seeking to hire a criminal defense lawyer as suburban prosecutors revisit a 2005 sexual-assault complaint against him.

Lawyer Edwin Jacobs said late Tuesday that Cosby's agents had contacted him in the past few days about a pending investigation in Montgomery County. Jacobs, who had represented Cosby in a review of another accuser's complaint in New Jersey, said he referred Cosby's agents to another high-profile Philadelphia-area lawyer.

That other lawyer did not return message seeking comment late Tuesday. The Philadelphia Inquirer first reported Tuesday on Jacobs' involvement in the case.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman wouldn't confirm her office is reinvestigating the complaint by former Temple University employee Andrea Constand. However, she said in a recent statement "prosecutors have a responsibility to review past conclusions ... when current information might lead to a different decision."

Ferman's predecessor, Bruce Castor, didn't think the evidence was sufficient to charge Cosby with a crime in 2005. Since then, dozens of women have accused the "I Spy" actor of drugging and molesting them, echoing the accusations Constand first made public with her January 2005 complaint to police and her later civil lawsuit.

In the civil suit, Constand said she had met Cosby through her job with the women's basketball program at Temple, where Cosby served on the board of trustees. She said he befriended and mentored her. But, in a January 2004 visit to his Cheltenham home, she said, he gave her three pills for stress and she later woke up with her clothes askew.

Cosby, in a sworn deposition released this year, acknowledged he had sexual contact with Constand in 2004 but said it was consensual.

Constand's lawyer said Constand would cooperate in the new investigation if asked.

"She's a very strong lady," lawyer Dolores Troiani said Tuesday. "She'll do whatever they request of her."

Troiani would not comment on whether Constand had been contacted by authorities this year. She and Constand can't comment on the case as part of a confidentiality agreement that settled the case before trial.

The settlement came after Cosby, who is 78 years old and has been married for decades, gave a lengthy deposition in the case. Documents unsealed in June by the presiding judge, along with the deposition later released by a court reporting service, show Cosby admitted having a series of extramarital relationships with women, including some of those who now accuse him of sexual assault.

He also said he had obtained quaaludes in the 1970s to give to women with whom he hoped to have sex, "the same as a person would say, 'Have a drink.'"

Cosby, who starred as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on "The Cosby Show" from 1984 to 1992, maintained that the sexual activities were consensual and that none of the women took the quaaludes unknowingly.

Castor, the former district attorney, in announcing he would not bring charges against Cosby in 2005, said both parties could be portrayed in "a less than flattering light."

Last week, he said Constand had lodged more serious sexual-assault allegations in the civil lawsuit than she had divulged to police. He recalled investigating the complaint as a potential misdemeanor. Yet the lawsuit included allegations of digital penetration, a potential felony, he said.

"If the allegations in the civil complaint were contained with that detail in her statement to the police, we might have been able to make a case out of it," said Castor, a county commissioner who's running for another term as district attorney as Ferman gives up the post to run for judge.

Troiani accused Castor of defaming Constand with his latest remarks. In an open letter she issued in response to his comments, she said she believes he had "no intention of arresting Dr. Huxtable" in 2005 because he was running for governor.

"We demand that you retract your statement concerning Ms. Constand and issue the apology to her that is 10 years overdue," Troiani wrote.

Cosby's longtime civil lawyers, Patrick O'Connor and George Gowen, did not return messages left Tuesday seeking comment.

- AP

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