No criminal charges against the Cos (2005)

Montco D.A.: 'Insufficient credible and admissible evidence'

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Bill Cosby (File: David Maialetti/ Staff Photographer)

MONTGOMERY County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. announced last night that he will not file criminal charges against entertainer Bill Cosby for allegedly drugging and groping a woman last year.

"The district attorney finds insufficient credible and admissible evidence exists upon which any charge against Mr. Cosby could be sustained beyond a reasonable doubt," Castor said in a press release issued shortly before 6 p.m.

"In addition, District Attorney Castor applied the Rules of Evidence governing whether or not evidence is admissible," the statement said. "Evidence may be inadmissible if it is too remote in time to be considered legally relevant or if it was illegally obtained pursuant to Pennsylvania law. After this analysis, the district attorney concludes that a conviction under the circumstances of this case would be unattainable. As such, District Attorney Castor declines to authorize the filing of criminal charges in connection with this matter. "

Dolores Troiani, the alleged victim's attorney, was furious that Castor had not notified the victim herself about his decision. Troiani said she found out from the media and had not been able to reach her client.

"I think the fact that she wasn't notified in advance speaks volumes about the manner in which the investigation was conducted by Mr. Castor," she said. "This is inexplicable conduct. Why would he not give us the courtesy of telling us this would happen? "

Troiani said she has to talk with her client but anticipates filing a civil suit against Cosby on her behalf.

"Obviously, we believe this is a strong case," Troiani said.

Walter Phillips, Jr., Cosby's attorney, would not say how he found out his client would not be charged. He would not respond to media reports that Cosby had told investigators that sexual contact had been consensual. Instead, he stuck to a brief statement.

"Mr. Cosby is gratified that District Attorney Castor, after a thorough investigation conducted with the full cooperation of Mr. Cosby, has determined not to file charges," Phillips said. "Mr. Cosby looks forward to moving on with his life. "

Castor's decision not to hold a news conference about his decision was also not a surprise. He has come under fire for comments he made about the case at a news conference three weeks ago. Just hours after detectives interviewed Cosby, Castor portrayed the case as weak and said the victim's delay in reporting the offense hurt the case.

Women's groups also attacked Phillips, who heads the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, which helps crime victims. Phillips had criticized the alleged Cosby victim for waiting to come forward, and called her story "bizarre" and "preposterous. "

Castor's and Phillips' comments prompted California attorney Tamara Green to come forward with similar allegations about Cosby that she said happened in the early 1970s. She gave a statement to detectives and told her story first to the Daily News. Other alleged victims came forward after seeing her in various nationally televised interviews.

Green said Castor's decision was a done deal three weeks ago.

"You guys need a new district attorney to protect its citizens because he was supposed to be her lawyer, not Bill Cosby's lawyer," Green said.

Green also said that, since she came forward, women in television studios, supermarkets and medical offices have been telling her how they had been sexually assaulted. And how they had never told anyone about it.

"I have been asked in the course of being interviewed whether I think women's rights have progressed since the early 1970s when this happened to me," she said. "All I can say is a woman came forward in Montgomery County in 2005 and complained of a sexual assault, and how's it working for her? How much better off is she than I would have been if I'd rushed to the cops back then?

"So, between then and 2005, I would suggest that nothing has changed," she said.

The alleged victim is 31 and the former director of operations for Temple University's women's basketball team. Cosby is a huge supporter of the women's team, a frequent attendee of their games and a close friend of the coach, Dawn Staley. He met the alleged victim through Staley.

The woman said she had been at his Elkins Park, Montgomery County, mansion in January 2004, when she complained of stress and tension. She told police that Cosby had offered her some pills, which made her "dizzy and sick. " She said that her recollections of the incident were fuzzy but that she recalled Cosby "touching her breast and placing her hand on his penis," the police report said.

She said she woke about 4 a.m. and found "her clothing in disarray and her bra undone," the report said. She drove herself home.

She said she had not reported the alleged offense to authorities immediately, in part, due to "Mr. Cosby's fame and due to her position at Temple," the report said. The woman left Temple last April and returned home to Canada to enroll in massage-therapy school. Her lawyers said she had not told anyone about what had happened to her until she told her mother, a few weeks before she went to police on Jan. 13 this year.

In his statement issued last night, Castor said investigators had interviewed family, friends and co-workers of the complainant, and professional acquaintances and employees of Cosby. Castor said detectives also searched Cosby's home and looked at phone records "and other items that might have evidentiary value. "

Finally, Castor said he reviewed statements from "other persons" claiming Cosby had behaved inappropriately with them.

"However, the detectives could find no instance in Mr. Cosby's past where anyone complained to law enforcement of conduct, which would constitute a criminal offense," the statement said.

The statement also indirectly addressed reports that the alleged victim had taped conversations of Cosby offering her mother financial compensation after she had gone to police. The family did not take him up on his alleged offer. Castor's statement hinted that it was "illegally obtained," but other legal experts have said the tapes could be admissible.

Castor said he would reconsider his decision "should the need arise. " Because there may be a civil suit, Castor said he would offer no opinions about the credibility of either party, nor would he make public comments about his decision.

"Much exists in this investigation that could be used [by others] to portray persons on both sides of the issue in a less than flattering light," the statement said. "The district attorney encourages the parties to resolve their dispute from this point forward with a minimum of rhetoric."