Bill Cosby's lawyers asked a judge on Monday to toss out a sexual assault charge against the comedian, saying a suburban Philadelphia prosecutor violated a decade-old agreement not to file charges against him.
The move targets Kevin Steele, the district attorney in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, where Cosby was charged last month with assaulting former Temple University worker Andrea Constand in 2004. Steele filed the charges weeks before the 12-year statute of limitations would have expired.
Cosby's legal team accused Steele of seeking to bolster his recent successful re-election campaign by ignoring a 2005 agreement between the comedian's lawyers and Pennsylvania authorities not to prosecute him as long as he testified in Constand's civil case.
"This agreement, made for the express purpose of inducing Mr. Cosby to testify fully in Ms. Constand’s civil litigation against him, led Mr. Cosby to give deposition testimony in 2005 and 2006 without invocation of his Constitutional rights against self-incrimination," Cosby's lawyers said in a statement.
Steele, the lawyers said, instead used Cosby's testimony as a basis for the criminal charges.
A transcript of Cosby's deposition in the Constand case, first reported by The New York Times in July, revealed that the comedian acknowledged he had reached into her pants and fondled her.
In the deposition, Cosby also said he gave Constand three half-pills of the cold and allergy medicine Benadryl.
Constand's accusation that Cosby drugged and violated her at his home in Cheltenham Township, near Philadelphia, in January 2004 led in part to other women claiming similar assaults, wrecking the once-beloved actor's reputation. But just the Constand case has resulted in criminal charges.
Cosby, 78, has been released on bail but faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Cosby's lawyers said that if a judge does not dismiss the charges, then Steele should be kicked off the case.