WASHINGTON - An arrest warrant was issued for entertainer Bill Cosby on charges of allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple employee Andrea Constand at his Elkins Park, Pennsylvania mansion, in January 2004.
Montgomery County prosecutors in Pennsylvania said on Wednesday that Cosby is charged with aggravated indecent assault, a felony.
It marks the first time charges have been officially brought against the beleaguered comedian, who has been accused by upwards of 50 women.
First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele said: "Today, after examination of all the evidence, we are able to seek justice on behalf of the victim."
The charges were filed thanks to new information uncovered in July, Steele said, noting that the incident remains within the 12-year statute of limitations.
"A prosecutor's job is to follow the evidence wherever it leads and whenever it comes to light," Steele said. "Upon examination of all the evidence, today we are able to seek justice on behalf of the victim."
He said that Cosby "made two sexual advances at her that were rejected." He added, "Mr. Cosby urged her to take pills and to drink wine, the effect of which left her unable to [rebuff his advances]."
Steele defined the act as "penetration" without the consent of his victim, Constand.
He added, "Pills were provided. Wine was provided. The victim was frozen, paralyzed. A person in that condition is not able to give consent."
"The evidence is strong and sufficient, enough to proceed with the charges," Steele added.
The decision by his boss, just elected new District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, reverses a decision by her predecessor who had ruled that there was not enough evidence to warrant an arrest.
Prosecutor say the release of a deposition last summer from a 2005 civil suit filed by Constand, in which Cosby admitted to giving quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with, caused the District Attorney's office to reopen the case.
Constand expressed gratitude via her legal team for the "consideration, courtesy and professionalism" of Steele's team.
"In that this matter is now being pursued in the criminal justice system we will not comment further," the statement concludes.
The felony charge came at the conclusion of a second investigation into allegations that the comedian drugged and assaulted Constand in 2004. Constand first accused Cosby of assaulting her a year after the alleged assault. At the time, prosecutors declined to press charges.
Before the assault, "the victim came to consider Mr. Cosby her mentor and her friend," Steele said, noting that Cosby made two earlier sexual advances, both of which were denied.
After the alleged assault, Constand moved back in with her mother in Canada, whom she eventually told of the incident.
They then notified Canadian authorities who notified counterparts in Pennsylvania, leading to the initial investigation that led to no charges, prosecutors said in a press release.
Prosecutors took a second look at Constand's allegations this year, based on "new information that came to light in July of 2015," Steele said. After establishing that the statute of limitations had not yet expired for the alleged 2004 assault, the investigation was reopened.
Cosby has previously said what happened between him and Constand was consensual, but in new court filings last summer Constand said she was in a relationship with a woman at the time. She also called Cosby a "narcissist" who missed cues that she's gay.