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How prosecutor’s office tricked Bill Cosby into giving up his Fifth Amendment rights then prosecuted


How prosecutor who represented Trump persuaded Bill Cosby to give up his Fifth Amendment rights – only to then use his admission to prosecute him

  • Bruce Castor in 2005 declined to criminally prosecute Bill Cosby
  • Instead he secured a civil conviction and Cosby sat for four days of deposition
  • Castor agreed a deal with Cosby, declining to prosecute in exchange for his cooperation in the civil case
  • Castor’s successor as district attorney, Kevin Steele, pressed charges against Cosby in December 2015 – within a month of taking office
  • On Wednesday Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled that Steele was wrong to have gone against Castor’s agreement with Cosby 
  • It agreed that Castor’s signed press release sufficed as a guarantee made on behalf of the county he served as prosecutor  

Bill Cosby was sensationally freed from prison in Pennsylvania on Wednesday after the Supreme Court ruled that a district attorney’s agreement not to prosecute the entertainer should have been respected, and charges never filed.

Bruce Castor, the district attorney for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, in 2005 was tasked with deciding whether to prosecute Cosby over allegations of sexual assault. Castor went on to represent Donald Trump earlier this year in his impeachment trial.

Andrea Constand, a Canadian basketball coach at Temple University in the state, accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her in 2004.

Bruce Castor, district attorney of Montgomery County from 2000-2008, and again in 2015, declined to prosecute Cosby in 2005

Castor decided that the case was unlikely to secure a criminal conviction. He was concerned that Constand had waited almost a year to report the alleged assaults, and that she had moved to launch a civil case in an apparent bid for compensation before contacting cops.  

He wanted to secure her a settlement in a civil case, however. 

Castor then told Cosby he would not be charged criminally for the sexual assault – later saying that he did so to prevent Cosby from invoking his Fifth Amendment right to staying quiet during questioning in that civil litigation. 

Cosby under oath then admitted to drugging women he hoped to have sex with.

He admitted to giving young women Quaaludes at that time ‘the same as a person would say have a drink,’ he said, but not without their knowledge. Cosby’s accusers have since said they had no idea they had been drugged.

Over the course of four days at a Philadelphia hotel, Cosby denied he was a sexual predator who assaulted many women, but presented himself in the deposition as a playboy who used a combination of fame, feigned concern for others and sedatives in a calculated pursuit of young women. 

Cosby, dresssed all in white, hugs his supporters outside his home in Pennsylvania. His ever-loyal spokesman Andrew Wyatt is seen standing behind, with a black shirt and glasses

Cosby, dresssed all in white, hugs his supporters outside his home in Pennsylvania. His ever-loyal spokesman Andrew Wyatt is seen standing behind, with a black shirt and glasses

Cosby flashes a peace sign outside his home in Pennsylvania, shortly after his release

Cosby flashes a peace sign outside his home in Pennsylvania, shortly after his release

The nearly 1,000-page transcript of the deposition was – unlike the memorandum of law in the case – never sealed. In 2015 The New York Times obtained and published it.

In November 2015, Kevin Steele, a Democrat, defeated Castor, a Republican, and took up the role of district attorney.

Within a month Steele had decided to prosecute Cosby – despite Castor’s agreement.

On Wednesday the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that charging Cosby for that crime, for which he was convicted in 2018, violated his due-process rights. 

Castor announced his plans not to pursue charges against Cosby in a 2005 press release, which he presented on headed paper, and signed in his signature.

He said he had agreed with Cosby’s lawyers to present his promise never to prosecute over the deposition admissions in the form of that press statement.

The subsequent prosecutors who then took up the case said Castor had no right to make such a promise, and claimed he should have followed formal statutes more closely. 

But Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court said Castor was within his rights to do so, and that his decision must stand. Their ruling stated that going back on such an agreement was ‘an affront to fundamental fairness, particularly when it results in a criminal conviction that was foregone for a decade.’ 

Kevin Steele was elected district attorney of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, in November 2015 - a role he still holds today. Steele replaced Castor and immediately charged Cosby

Kevin Steele was elected district attorney of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, in November 2015 – a role he still holds today. Steele replaced Castor and immediately charged Cosby

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