The renowned American comedian was charged with drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in 2004. The case against Cosby was filed days before Pennsylvania's statute of limitations would have gone into effect.
Prosecutors in the US state of Pennsylvania on Wednesday charged comedian and performer Bill Cosby with aggravated indecent assault, days shy of a deadline that would have impeded any criminal prosecution.
Cosby was consequently released from custody after posting a $1-million (900,000-euro) bail. He handed over his passport and agreed to not make contact with his accuser Andrea Constand, a former Temple University basketball team manager in Philadelphia.
"Today, after examination of all the evidence, we are able to seek justice on behalf of the victim," said Kevin Steele, the district attorney for Montgomery County.
The charges are linked to allegations made by Constand, who settled a civil case against the comedian in 2006 for an undisclosed sum. The documents tied to the civil suit were sealed as part of the case.
If found guilty of the second-degree felony, Cosby could face five to 10 years in prison, along with a $25,000 (22,860 euros) fine.
Cosby has maintained his innocence and has even sued seven of his accusers, saying they had defamed his "honorable legacy and reputation."
'Did not consent'
The affidavit accompanying the charge noted that Constand visited Cosby at his house one evening in January 2004, during which the events transpired.
"Shortly thereafter, the victim became incapacitated, and Cosby led her to a couch. The victim lay down … and Cosby position himself [sic.] behind her. Cosby then fondled the victim's breasts, put his hands inside her pants and penetrated her vagina with his fingers," prosecutors said as noted in the affidavit.
"The victim did not consent to any of these acts and reported that she was unable to move or speak and felt 'frozen' and 'paralyzed,'" prosecutors added.
More than 50 women have accused Cosby of assaulting them, with some accusations dating back decades, making it virtually impossible to prosecute under statutes of limitations.
ls/bk (AP, Reuters, dpa)