Bill Cosby charged in sexual assault case

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cosby-charged.jpgThe authorities in Pennsylvania announced criminal charges on Wednesday against the entertainer Bill Cosby stemming from a woman's accusation that he drugged and sexually abused her at his home in a suburb north of Philadelphia, in 2004.

Kevin Steele, Montgomery County's district attorney-elect, said that Mr. Cosby faces a felony charge of aggravated indecent assault. He said the investigation involved a "relationship" between Mr. Cosby and the woman, Andrea Constand, that came about from her work with the basketball team at Temple University, Mr. Cosby's alma mater.

Mr. Cosby became a "mentor" and "friend" to Ms. Constand, Mr. Steele said, and at one point she went to his home in Cheltenham Township. According to the accusations, Mr. Cosby urged her to take pills and drink wine until she was unable to move, after which he committed the assault.

"The evidence is strong and sufficient to proceed," Mr. Steele said. He added: "A person in that state cannot give consent."

The criminal charges come after a year of tumult in his career as dozens of women came forward to accuse Mr. Cosby, who was once revered as a father figure and popular moralist, of sexually abusing them. Many of those women on Wednesday cheered the decision to prosecute him.

The entertainer, who has long denied the charges and had never before been criminally charged, had only recently spoken of how he had been harmed by the accusations as universities and even Disney World retracted honors they had bestowed on him.