PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Pennsylvania appeals court has rejected Bill Cosby's attempt to halt his criminal case because of what he called a decade-old deal not to prosecute him.
The mid-level state Superior Court ruled Monday that the criminal sex-assault case against Cosby can proceed.
Cosby, 78, is facing trial over a 2004 encounter at his home with a then-Temple University employee who says she was drugged and molested by the comedian. Cosby says they engaged in consensual sex acts.
Former prosecutor Bruce Castor has said he promised he would never prosecute Cosby and urged him to testify in the woman's civil lawsuit. The release of that testimony last year led a new prosecutor to arrest him.
In the lengthy deposition, taken over four days in 2005 and 2006, the long-married Cosby acknowledged a series of affairs and said he had gotten quaaludes to give to women he hoped to seduce.
The decision Monday paves the way for Cosby to return to court for a preliminary hearing. He has not yet entered a plea in the case, but remains free on $1 million bail posted after his Dec. 30 arrest.
His lawyers did not immediately return messages. Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele planned to issue a statement later in the day.
Cosby is meanwhile locked in a number of legal battles around the country with women who accuse him of sexual assault or defamation.
He has countersued some of them, including the Pennsylvania accuser. His lawsuit accuses her of breach of contract for talking to police who reopened the case last year, given the confidential settlement of the lawsuit she filed against him after Castor turned down the case.
Castor re-emerged in the case last fall as a key defense witness who said he had made a deal that Cosby would never be charged. Castor last year was running to return to the district attorney's office. He was defeated by Steele.
Cosby acknowledged in the deposition that he gave the Temple ex-employee, Andrea Constand, the cold and allergy medicine Benadryl before engaging in sex acts with her at his home near Philadelphia. He calls the encounter consensual.
Constand, who had sought career advice from Cosby, left her job with the Temple women's basketball team that spring. She returned home to Toronto and began training to become a massage therapist.
A year later, she contacted police to report the alleged sexual assault.
Thirteen other women came forward by the time she settled her lawsuit in 2006 to say that Cosby had also molested them. Cosby in the deposition described a long history of womanizing, including extramarital affairs with several of the accusers. However, he said he never assaulted anyone or gave them drugs unknowingly.
Dozens of women have since added their names to the list of accusers. But the statute of limitations had run on virtually all of them, and Constand's is the only case to result in criminal charges.