Comedian and television star Bill Cosby was ordered to stand trial on charges of sexual assault earlier this week, sparking many questions about what that trial might look like. Although nearly 60 women have publicly accused Cosby of sexual assault — charges his legal team has vehemently denied — he only faces criminal charges in the case of Andrea Constand, who claims the comedian drugged and molested her in 2004. One question on everyone's mind now that a trial is imminent is will Cosby take the stand to testify in his defense?
Cosby was charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault against 43-year-old Constand in December. Despite efforts by Cosby's lawyers to have the charges dismissed, Montgomery County judge Elizabeth McHugh ruled the case would go to trial following a preliminary hearing Tuesday. Constand says she was drugged and molested by the 78-year-old actor in 2004 at his home in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. Cosby, however, claims he had only consensual sexual relations with Constand as she never said "no" and that the only drug he ever gave her was Benadryl.
At this point, it's unclear if Cosby will take the stand to testify in his defense during his trial. With no DNA evidence, much of the case revolves around statements both Constand and Cosby gave in 2005 and 2006, meaning both parties will have to defend their previous comments about the incident when the case goes to trail. Such a feat could prove difficult for Cosby's legal team without the comedian taking the stand to testify.
Cosby's lawyers accused the prosecution of relying on hearsay Tuesday after Constand did not appear to testify at the preliminary hearing. "After hearing the weak, inconsistent and incredible evidence presented, it is clear why the prosecution did not allow its witness to speak and be confronted by the person she has accused," Cosby's attorney Brian McMonagle told ABC News in a statement Tuesday. "Instead, they chose to rely on an 11-year-old hearsay statement from that witness, riddled with numerous corrections and inconsistencies."
In lieu of testimony from Constand, the prosecution opted to have portions of statements she'd made to police when she first reported the incident in 2005, roughly a year after it allegedly occurred, read in court Tuesday. Prosecutors reportedly chose not to pursue a case against Cosby in 2005 when Constand first came forward due to "insufficient, admissible, and reliable evidence upon which to base a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt," according to a former Montgomery County prosecutor.
In the statement read in court Tuesday, Constand said she went "in and out" of consciousness after Cosby gave her some pills, at which point the comedian allegedly fondled her breasts and privates. Constand said she "was unable to speak" and thus unable to tell Cosby "no," according to her statement. Cosby admitted to "petting and the touching of private parts" in a statement he gave to police shortly after Constand reported the event in 2005 but denied allegations the incident was not consensual.
It's also unclear if any of the other 57 women who've accused Cosby of sexual assault will be allowed to testify at his trial in an attempt by the prosecution to establish "prior bad acts." Cosby's legal team is expected to fight any attempts by the prosecution to include the testimonies of other Cosby accusers.
Cosby could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. An arraignment is scheduled for July 20, although Cosby has reportedly waived his right to appear.