NORRISTOWN, Pa. (NBC News) – Pennsylvania prosecutors on Wednesday announced they have filed charges against embattled comedian Bill Cosby for an alleged sexual assault encounter with a woman 12 years ago.
Cosby arrived for his arraignment Wednesday afternoon. He got out of a dark van and walked through a phalanx of media without commenting.
Cosby was charged with aggravated indecent assault, a first-degree felony, Montgomery County District Attorney-elect Kevin Steele said at a news conference. He will be arraigned Wednesday afternoon.
“Upon examination of all of the evidence, today we are able to seek justice on behalf of Mr. Cosby’s victim,” Steele said.
If found guilty, Cosby faces up to 10 years in prison. In addition, he would have to register as a sex offender.
Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee, told police the once-beloved TV father figure drugged and violated her at his home in Cheltenham Township, near Philadelphia, in 2004.
Constand, 42, was not specifically named as the victim during the news conference, but Steele said that the woman “has indicated that she is willing to cooperate with us going forward.”
The 78-year-old “Cosby Show” star previously said under oath that he had consensual sexual contact with Constand. But a previous district attorney declined to charge Cosby in 2005.
Montgomery County prosecutors had until a January deadline to file charges against Cosby because of the 12-year statute of limitations for felony sex assault.
More women came forward last year to claim the comedian drugged and raped them or touched them inappropriately in past decades. The dozens of accusers have included aspiring actresses and supermodels Beverly Johnson and Janice Dickinson.
Lawyers for Cosby did not immediately respond to the charge.
Steele said Cosby knew the victim when she was the coach of Temple University’s women’s basketball team. She considered him “her mentor and her friend,” Steele added.
But after looking at new evidence presented earlier this summer, Cosby had twice made unwanted sexual advances toward the woman, according to prosecutors.
Steele said during one incident, Cosby urged her to “take pills that he provided to her” and to drink wine. The effect “made her unable to move or reject her advances,” he added.
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.
“I don’t hear her say anything. And I don’t feel her say anything. And so I continue and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped,” he said, according to the transcript.
He claims she had groped her in return, but she ultimately rejected him when he tried to have more sexual contact.
In the deposition, Cosby says he gave Constand three half-pills of the cold and allergy medicine Benadryl.
Steele said Wednesday that he gave the victim “three blue pills,” but that only Cosby can truly know what they were.
The prosecutor acknowledged that his office acted now because time was running out to charge Cosby in the case.
“Reopening this case was our duty as law enforcement officers with a sworn obligation to uphold our Constitution and to uphold the law,” Steele said Wednesday.