Many Pennsylvania readers have followed the criminal case against comedian Bill Cosby. The 78-year-old entertainer is accused of sexually assaulting a woman who was a former employee of the Temple University Basketball program in 2004. Now, an email from former District Attorney Bruce Castor to his successor Risa Vetri ferman could mean a positive turn of events for Cosby and his defense team. It seems that a verbal agreement between the former DA and Cosby could preclude the use of a civil deposition concerning another alleged sexual assault from being used in the current case.
The matter will no doubt be argued in court. As it stands, the email between the two prosecutors states that a verbal agreement was made in which Cosby was assured that information contained within a deposition would never be used in criminal proceedings against him. The former prosecutor asserts that he made that deal in order to get Cosby to participate in the deposition for a civil case brought by one of his accusers. At the time, Castor felt that there was not enough evidence to convict Cosby of sexual assault, and was trying to help the accuser proceed in her civil case against the comedian.
Within the email, Castor states that he believes that no court would allow the deposition to be used as evidence in a criminal trial, but instead would rule that it should be subject to suppression. In addition, Castor expresses concern that if Ferman cannot build a strong case against Cosby using other evidence, then there may be a risk that Cosby could bring legal action against the County or the prosecutor. In this matter, the problem lies in whether a verbal agreement between a prosecutor and an individual giving a deposition can be binding.
The current prosecutor, who worked under Ferman for many years and was recently elected, believes that the deposition should become part of the current criminal case. He points out that there is a specific method required to grant immunity to an individual, and that those guidelines were not followed when the verbal deal was made in 2005. As the case moves forward, this issue is likely to become the central focus of the Pennsylvania court, and the outcome could have a significant impact for Cosby’s defense strategy.
Source: CNN, “CNN Exclusive: Email may derail case against Bill Cosby“, Michael Smerconish and Steve Almasy, Jan. 17, 2016