(Former Pennsylvania DA Bruce Castor’s February 17, 2005 press release of joint investigation into Bill Cosby’s case. Mr. Castor decided not to pursue criminal charges against Cosby) Here is the press release. Click here.
Beth Karas is LawNewz.com’s Editor-at-Large. She is currently in a Pennsylvania courtroom at Bill Cosby’s hearing. She sent in the details for this report:
This morning a second witness was called to the stand in the Bill Cosby hearing. A judge is set to determine whether a non-prosecution agreement is enforceable and if the whole case should be thrown out because of it. Cosby’s attorneys allege that the former Montgomery County district attorney agreed not to prosecute Cosby after finding there was not enough evidence. Bill Castor testified Tuesday that he thought Cosby may have done it, but didn’t think he could convince 12 jurors. The alleged victim, Andrea Constand, sued Cosby in 2005 claiming he rapped and drugged her. Cosby’s civil deposition in the case is now the heart of the prosecutor’s newly filed case against him.
Here is what happened this morning (from Beth Karas):
A second witness was called by the defense: John P. Schmitt, a New York corporate attorney, who has represented Bill Cosby since the 1990s. Schmitt said in 2005 he became aware of a criminal investigation into Cosby, but he says the allegations were resolved in mid-February 2005, and the DA determined there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. He retained Walter Phillips as criminal defense counsel for Cosby during the investigation. Phillips has since died.
“I understood that the case could not be reopened. I spoke to Phillips who said that though Cosby wasn’t being charged, the DA wanted to make sure he had to testify in a civil case—that he couldn’t take the 5th,” Schmitt said in court. Schmitt said it was his understanding that Cosby could not be charged, and that was irrevocable. He also added that back in 2005 Cosby was interviewed in a conference call at his office by detectives.
“We participated in discovery (re: the civil case). Mr. Cosby sat for 4 days of deposition knowing that the criminal case could not be reopened. Did Mr. Cosby invoke the 5th? No,” Schmitt said. Prosecutor Kevin Steele cross examined Schmitt.
More on why Castor didn’t prosecute Cosby. From Law Newz:
Update — Feb 2, 1:38 p.m. EST: (from Beth Karas at the hearing): Former District Attorney Bruce Castor was on the stand all morning giving details about his decision not to prosecute Bill Cosby for alleged sexual assault in 2004. Among the reasons he gave today were: that the accuser, Andrea Constand, did not report the incident for one year, there was no forensic evidence of drugs or Cosby’s DNA, there were inconsistencies in the statements she made over time to law enforcement, she continued to have contact with Cosby, sometimes in person, between the incident and reporting it to police, and she contacted a civil attorney before reporting the incident to the police.
Castor said that as Montgomery County District Attorney, it was his decision not to prosecute Cosby; that it was not an “agreement.” He did not believe the case could be proven. Cosby’s attorney, Walter Phillips, was aware that, with the decision not to prosecute, Cosby could no longer assert his 5th Amendment right not to self-incriminate. At one point, Castor said that “Cosby had to be nuts to say those things” if he thought he could be prosecuted.
Update — Feb. 2, 12:24 EST: Editor-at-Large Beth Karas, who is at the hearing updated us. Bruce Castor, the former District Attorney is on the stand. Here is what Beth reports: “When asked about steps to formalize (the non-prosecution agreement) in writing, Castor said he and Phillips (Cosby’s attorney) didn’t think it was a hard concept to understand. Once the possibility of a criminal prosecution is gone, the possibility of taking the 5th is too.” Former DA Castor also said on the stand that he directed his First Dep to contact Constand’s attorneys and tell them there would be no prosecution. There was no official document of this agreement, but Castor testified there was an understanding.