Following two days of contentious testimony, on Wednesday evening a Montgomery County judge ruled that Bill Cosby is not protected from sex assault charges under what a former prosecutor claimed was a 2005 decision permanently closing the case.
Judge Steven O’Neill said he found “no basis to grant the relief requested,” in a five minute announcement of his decision, and dismissed a defense habeas corpus motion on the basis of the alleged agreement.
The ruling came after a back-and-forth between Montgomery County prosecutors and Cosby’s team of top-shelf attorneys.
Cosby’s lawyers argued that former Montgomery County DA Bruce Castor permanently immunized Cosby from sex assault charges in the Andrea Constand case when he closed the case in 2005.
Castor’s credibility was assaulted by his successor Kevin Steele in closing arguments Wednesday afternoon.
“Credibility is out the window at this point,” Steele argued — pointing out that Castor said at different times in media reports and letters around 2015 that prosecution against Cosby was not precluded, and that the Constand case could be revisited if new evidence surfaced.
Constand’s civil lawyer Dolores Troiani and her former co-counsel Bebe Kivitz had both testified earlier Wednesday that they weren’t aware of any such agreement — flying in the face of Castor’s testimony that he made the decision to help their lawsuit, and with their knowledge, as he testified Tuesday.
“No lawyer for Cosby ever mentioned that there was any agreement, ever,” Troiani asserted.
Cosby’s defense lawyer Christopher Tayback protested that even just an oral promise from a prosecutor was legally binding.
“A promise by a prosecutor is enforceable,” Tayback argued. “He’s not looking for special treatment. If any other defendant had the former sitting DA come in and testify, there would be no prosecution.”
After Judge O'Neill's ruling terminating the non-prosecution deal, lawyers argued whether DA Kevin Steele should be disqualified from the Cosby case over statements made during his campaign for the DA's office in 2015 and retweeting an article about the Cosby case.
O'Neill dismissed that motion, finding "no misconduct" and and ruling that none of Steele's actions during his campaign disqualified the Montgomery County DA's office from handling the case.
Cosby's preliminary hearing was then scheduled for March 8.
Check back with Metro for more as this story develops.