A civil lawsuit filed Monday claims a former Pennsylvania district attorney is blocking a current, reopened criminal investigation into Bill Cosby.
Andrea Constand, the first person to publicly allege sexual assault by Bill Cosby in 2005, brought the suit against former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor, alleging defamation and false light.
Castor, the lawsuit claims, gave various interviews with media outlets and directly or indirectly implied Constand had been inconsistent in her accusations against Cosby and “exaggerated her claims in a lawsuit and therefore was not to be believed.”
Castor was district attorney in 2005 and opted to not bring charges in the Constand case, citing a lack of evidence. Castor is running for his old position as Montgomery County DA. That election is next week.
Statute of limitations
Constand, a former staffer for Temple University’s women’s basketball team, accused Cosby of drugging and molesting her when she visited his suburban Philadelphia home in January 2004. Constand settled a civil case against Cosby in 2006.
Pennsylvania law has a 12-year statute of limitations for sexual assault cases. The statute of limitations in this case will run out early next year.
Five individuals from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office flew to Canada this summer to speak with Constand, attorney Dolores Troiani told CNN’s Jean Casarez.
In a statement released last month, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said “prosecutors have a responsibility to review past conclusions, whether their own or a predecessor’s, when current information might lead to a different decision.”
“While it takes tremendous courage for a victim of a sexual assault to stand up and speak out, charging decisions are not made based on our respect for the courage of a witness; rather they are made based upon a review of the factual information available at the time and a prosecutor’s analysis of whether allegations of criminal conduct can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” the statement said.
“A decision made by one District Attorney may be revisited, at any time up to the expiration of the statute of limitations, either by a new District Attorney and/or because additional evidence has been discovered. Up until the time that the statute of limitations expires, charges can always be brought.”
In response to the suit, Castor alleges his opponent in the race for Montgomery County district attorney, Kevin Steele, is behind the lawsuit.
“It is the act of a desperate candidate who is down in the polls and headed to defeat,” Castor said. “It is totally without merit.”
CNN has reached out to Steele for comment but has not heard back.
Constand’s attorney tells CNN the lawsuit was prompted by Castor’s own words.
“Castor has questioned the timing of the suit, claiming that we have engaged in a conspiracy with his political opponent,” Troiani noted. “Mr. Castor’s present accusations concerning our motivation are baseless. We look forward to proceeding with the lawsuit, regardless of the outcome of the election.”
Constand is suing for more than $150,000, plus punitive damages.