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Cosby's criminal sex charge on ice, pending appeal

02 March 2016, 09:45

New York - A US appeals court on Tuesday postponed until further notice legal proceedings aimed at putting disgraced TV legend Bill Cosby on trial in Pennsylvania for alleged sexual assault.

It comes after the pioneering black comedian, 78, appealed a judge's refusal to dismiss what is the first criminal assault charge against the megastar turned pariah, for which he posted $1 million bail last December.

More than 50 women have publicly alleged sexual abuse at the hands of the once treasured comedian, who attained his greatest fame for his role as a lovable obstetrician and family man in the hit 1980s sitcom "The Cosby Show."

The allegations span four decades, but the vast majority cannot be prosecuted because they have expired under statutes of limitations.

But last month, Judge Steven O'Neill paved the way for Cosby to stand trial for alleged abuse in 2004, rejecting an attempt his lawyers to dismiss the case. Cosby appealed immediately to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.

"The trial court proceedings shall be temporarily stayed pending disposition of the Commonwealth's motion to quash appeal," the superior court ruled Tuesday.

Cosby had been next due to appear in court in Norristown, just outside Philadelphia, on March 8 in connection with the 2004 case and was initially settled in 2006 by a civil suit.

Cosby's lawyers say reopening the case violated a 2005 agreement that he would never be prosecuted over the allegation of assault made by Andrea Constand, a former employee of Temple University in Philadelphia.

Prosecutors in Montgomery County reopened the case last year, claiming that new evidence came to light in July. Cosby posted bail of $1 million on December 30.

Constand says Cosby forced himself on her at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. Prosecutors say he urged her to take pills and drink wine, leaving her unable to resist as he made his move on her.

Cosby has admitted giving Constand a pill but said all relations with her were consensual and accused her of lying about the assault.

If found guilty, Cosby - who has surrendered his passport to the court but has yet to enter a plea - could face up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

His attorneys deny any wrongdoing by the actor and say he has lost his sight.


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