Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele's decision to slap criminal sexual assault charges against Bill Cosby Wednesday was made possible by evidence unavailable when Bruce Castor was chief prosecutor, prominent area attorneys said.
The chief evidence was the testimony Cosby gave in a depositition in suit against him by a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand, who alledges the famed television actor drugged and sexually assaulted her, said lawyers outside the case.
Nationally acclaimed trial lawyer George Bochetto said he could not fault Castor for not prosecuting Cosby back in 2005.
“In all fairness to Bruce Castor, he did not have the benefit of the sworn testimony that came out of the U.S. District Court of Pennsylvania in [Andrea Constand's] prior civil action,” Bochetto said.
In 2005 Constand reported to authorities that Cosby had assaulted her but Castor decided not to prosecute because there was reportedly not enough evidence.
Bochetto said that much has surfaced in the decade since both Constand’s civil case arose and since dozens of other women have come forward with similar allegations — and that Cosby’s deposition testimony is “very damning.”
“You cannot read through that transcript and come away thinking this is a wrongly accused individual who has been misinterpreted. The bold-faced admissions that took place in that testimony were dramatic,” he said.
Bochetto compared the magnitude of media attention on the case to that of O.J. Simpson’s, with drama unfolding daily on a nationwide scale, and the spotlight focused on Montgomery County.
Heavyweight lawyer Jack McMahon said his first reaction to Wednesday’s news was that it was an outgrowth of all the subsequent complaints that have come forward in recent years.
“Ten years ago there weren’t all these complaints, and therefore, [Constand’s] case was in a vacuum, and in a vacuum, the case was pretty shaky,” he told Metro.
“You make a decision based on what’s in front of you. [Castor] made the decision based on what was in front of him, and I think, from what I’ve read, he made the right decision — that it wasn’t a prosecutable case back then, and I don’t think it’s a prosecutable case now.
“There’s no way that Kevin Steele — who I like — there’s no way he prosecutes this case, pulls it out 10 years later, but for all these other allegations in the interim.”
Castor, who himself was mum Wednesday on the Cosby developments, has previously said that the decision not to prosecute Cosby was based on the evidence available to him at the time. Steele had sharply criticized Castor's decision during the election campaign earlier for the DA's office.
“Steele is saying I should have arrested Cosby back in 2005. If there was enough evidence back then, I would have,” he has said. “Steele has been in the DA’s office all that time since. I left at the end of 2007. So if there is enough evidence, why didn’t he go out and arrest Cosby over the last eight years?"
Castor has also said: “Steele is engaging in outright deception to try and steal an election. It is unworthy of him. But it might actually work, and the end justifies the means to some people.
“If the released documents over the summer got them over the hump to be able to arrest, then Steele simply lied to the voters to win the election by saying I could have arrested in 2005. How can you ever believe anything the guy says going forward?”
Steele declined to comment Wednesday, as did outgoing DA, Risa Vetri Ferman.