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Bill Cosby Lawyer Says Charges Are Politically Motivated


Bill Cosby's attorney says the comedian and actor will fight criminal charges filed against him and that a plea bargain is out of the question. Cosby's accused of drugging and assaulting a woman more than a decade ago at his suburban Philadelphia home. NPR's Jeff Brady joins us from Philadelphia. And Jeff, yesterday, Bill Cosby really didn't do much more than shake his head no when these charges were filed. Any reaction from him today?

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: We have not heard from Bill Cosby directly, but a member of his legal team has been out responding to the charges. Monique Pressley was on ABC's "Good Morning America," and she's predicting that Cosby will be exonerated. She added that the charges are politically motivated. Here's what she had to say.


MONIQUE PRESSLEY: Before we even have to mount a defense, we'll have to look at the game of political football that this Montgomery County DA's office has played with my client's life.

BRADY: And that game of political football that she's referring to - that goes back to the recent election for Montgomery County DA. The Cosby case played a big role in that race.

CORNISH: But how big a role? I mean, help us understand what bill Cosby's attorney's alluding to here.

BRADY: One of the candidates, Bruce Castor - he was the DA a decade ago, back when the accuser reported that Cosby had assaulted her. But at the time, Castor said the case was too weak to bring charges. The woman filed a civil case instead. It was settled out of court. And that case included a deposition of Cosby that was never released to the public.

CORNISH: Oh, OK, until last summer, right? That's when the Associated Press actually sued to get that deposition released, and that's when people started hearing more details - right? - from Cosby's testimony.

BRADY: Right. The judge released it last summer. And in that deposition, Cosby admits to buying Quaaludes, hoping women would take them and have sex with him. The Montgomery County DAs office saw that, and within just a few days, the criminal case was reopened. And it was assigned to an assistant prosecutor who was also running for DA. His name is Kevin Steele. He started running ads criticizing Castor, the former DA who was also running again. He started criticizing him in these ads for failing to bring charges a decade earlier.

CORNISH: So Bruce Castor, the former DA, was running for his old seat - right? - the seat he had when he first declined to bring charges. So how did he respond to these ads during this recent campaign?

BRADY: The race got really nasty. Castor said with new information in that deposition, he would bring charges now. And then he started hitting back and Kevin Steele, saying, as an assistant prosecutor, he should be bringing charges right away against Bill Cosby. Ultimately, voters sided with Steele and elected him. Then yesterday, we saw him stepping out before television cameras to say he's filed three felony sexual assault charges against Bill Cosby.

CORNISH: Meanwhile, there's a 12-year statute of limitation in Pennsylvania for these kinds of crimes. How much did that play into the decision to file charges yesterday?

BRADY: I think it played a role but maybe not as big a role as people have suggested. Prosecutors did need to file charges before the clock ran out, but they still had another few weeks. We don't know exactly why they chose to file those charges yesterday, but I can say that doing so ensured they got a lot of attention. You know, this is the week between Christmas and New Year's when reporters are looking hard for news to cover, and the first criminal charges against Bill Cosby - that's a huge story. And it got a lot of ink and airtime over the past day-and-a-half.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Jeff Brady joining us from Philadelphia. Jeff, thanks so much.

BRADY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jeff Brady is a National Desk Correspondent based in Philadelphia, where he covers energy issues and climate change. Brady helped establish NPR's environment and energy collaborative which brings together NPR and Member station reporters from across the country to cover the big stories involving the natural world.