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Cosby due in court in in sex assault case

Associated Press Associated Press 24/05/2016

Bill Cosby is due in a Pennsylvania court for a key hearing in his criminal sex-assault case.

The preliminary hearing on Tuesday morning (2330 AEST) will determine whether prosecutors have enough evidence to send the 78-year-old entertainer to trial.

Cosby is accused of drugging and molesting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004.

Prosecutors say Constand was not only impaired, but unconscious after Cosby gave her three unidentified blue pills. Cosby says they engaged in consensual sexual activities, and that he was a friend and mentor to her.

Prosecutors reopened the criminal case last year after dozens of women raised similar claims, and Cosby's deposition in Constand's lawsuit surfaced.

Constand had gone to him for career advice. Cosby said he gave her the pills to address her stress.

He settled her lawsuit for an undisclosed sum in 2006, after giving four days of testimony about his extramarital affairs, his pursuit of quaaludes to seduce women and his efforts to hide payments to former lovers from his wife.

The confidential settlement bound both sides to secrecy, but a federal judge last year unsealed portions of Cosby's deposition on a petition from The Associated Press. The full deposition was later released by a court reporting service.

Montgomery County prosecutors then reopened Constand's decade-old complaint last (northern) summer, after realising the 12-year window for felony sexual assault had not yet run out.

Cosby has not entered a plea since his December 30 arrest. He would do so at a formal arraignment if the case is held for trial. He is being held on $US1 million bail.

Cosby also is fighting defamation lawsuits across the country for allegedly smearing accusers and is trying to get his homeowners' insurance to pay his legal bills.

Constand is now a massage therapist in Toronto. It's not known if she will testify on Tuesday or if police will instead read her statement about the encounter that night.

Cosby faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of aggravated indecent assault.

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