PHILADELPHIA — Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele pushed back Tuesday against a claim that a predecessor struck a deal a decade ago protecting Bill Cosby from prosecution in an alleged 2004 sex assault.
In a five-sentence statement, Steele said that he was reviewing the arguments Cosby’s legal team made in a motion Monday, but that he would not be baited into trying the case outside the courtroom.
Still, Steele added, “we are not surprised by this filing, which has no merit.”
In the motion, Cosby’s lawyers said Steele’s decision to charge the 78-year-old entertainer last month with the assault of former Temple University employee Andrea Constand violated a 2005 agreement between Cosby and former District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr.
Castor investigated Constand’s claims when she came forward a year after the alleged assault but decided not to bring a case.
Cosby agreed in 2006 to testify in a civil suit filed by Constand only because of a “non-prosecution” deal Castor offered him, defense attorneys Brian McMonagle and Monique Pressley said.
That deposition has become potential evidence in the current case. Steele’s office cited the deposition in the criminal complaint filed against him last month.
McMonagle and Pressley’s motion does not quote or reference any written non-prosecution agreement between Cosby and the Prosecutor’s Office. Instead, the lawyers cite Castor’s February 2005 news release in which he announced he was declining to bring charges based on Constand’s allegations.
They also argue that the current case should be thrown out because significant evidence is no longer available to them, and because Cosby’s advancing age and declining health will prevent him from reviewing evidence, identifying witnesses, or recalling decade-old events.
And they have asked a judge to disqualify Steele’s office from prosecuting, arguing that he improperly used the Cosby case to attack Castor and bolster his own campaign when both were running for district attorney last year.
Cosby repeatedly has denied Constand’s accusations and is expected to fight the charge of aggravated indecent assault at a preliminary hearing scheduled for Feb. 2