A US judge has ordered the comedian Bill Cosby to stand trial, dismissing a motion from his lawyers to drop the case. He has been accused of raping a Philadelphia woman in 2004.
On Wednesday, a judge in Pennsylvania announced that a sexual assault case against the disgraced comedian Bill Cosby would move forward. The decision paves the way for Cosby to stand trial for the first time after being accused of attacks by more than 50 women.
"I hereby find no basis to grant the relief requested" by the defense attorneys, Judge Steven O'Neill said in the suburban Philadelphia courtroom. A spokesman for Cosby has said the star will appeal the decision.
Because the statute of limitations has run out in many cases, Cosby cannot be prosecuted for several of the claims against him - some of which date to the 1960s. The incident before the court this time, however, is only 11 years old, and O'Neill ruled that a prosecutor's promise not to charge Cosby was not legally valid.
Andrea Constand, a former employee of Temple University in Philadelphia, has accused Cosby of drugging and raping her at his home in the city in January 2004. She went to the police in 2005, but was told the authorities would not pursue the case because of the unlikelihood of it holding up in court.
Former state attorney Bruce Castor told Judge O'Neill on Wednesday that he then urged Cosby to testify in Constand's civil suit, promising him immunity from future prosecution in return. The case was eventually settled out of court.
Cosby's testimony in the civil case came back to haunt him in July, when a newly public legal brief contained extracts in which the comedy legend admitted to buying Quaaludes, a sedative, to use on women to persuade them to have sex.
The 78-year-old was officially charged with Constand's rape on December 30 of last year after the county's new prosecutor, Kevin Steele, reopened the investigation, citing Cosby's Quaalude confession.
es/jr (dpa, Reuters)