A judge refused to throw out the sexual assault case against Bill Cosby on Wednesday, sweeping aside claims that a previous district attorney had granted the comedian immunity from prosecution a decade ago, the AP reports. The case now moves to a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to try Cosby on charges he drugged and violated former Temple University athletic department employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. The TV star could get up to 10 years in prison if convicted. In 2005, the district attorney at the time decided the case was too flawed to prosecute. But his successors reopened the investigation last year after Cosby's lurid, decade-old testimony from Constand's civil suit was unsealed at the request of the AP.
At the hearing this week, Cosby's lawyers tried to get the case thrown out by putting the former DA, Bruce Castor, on the stand. Castor testified that in deciding not to charge Cosby, he intended to forever close the door on prosecuting the comedian. He said he considered his decision binding on his successors. Similarly, Cosby's lawyers said they never would have let the TV star testify in the civil case if they didn't believe criminal charges were off the table. But current DA Kevin Steele questioned whether Castor ever made such an agreement, since it was never put in writing on a legal document and the Cosby attorney with whom Castor dealt is now dead. Steele argued that in any case, Castor had no legal authority to make such a deal. "A secret agreement that allows a wealthy defendant to buy his way out of a criminal case isn't right," Steele told the judge.