A Pennsylvania appeals court has rejected Bill Cosby's attempt to throw out his criminal case because of what he called a decade-old deal not to prosecute him.
The mid-level state Superior Court ruled Monday that the criminal sex-assault case against Cosby can proceed, prompting the district attorney to press for a preliminary hearing date.
Cosby, 78, is facing trial over a 2004 encounter at his home with a then-Temple University employee who says she was drugged and molested by the comedian. Cosby says they engaged in consensual sex acts.
Former prosecutor Bruce Castor has said he promised he would never prosecute Cosby and urged him to testify in the woman's 2005 civil lawsuit. The release of that testimony last year led a new prosecutor to arrest him.
In the lengthy deposition, the long-married Cosby acknowledged a series of affairs and said he had gotten quaaludes to give to women he hoped to seduce.
Cosby has not yet entered a plea in the criminal case, and remains free on $1-million bail posted after his Dec. 30 arrest.
"We ... look forward to the court setting a date so we can present our case," Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said in a statement.
Cosby's lawyers were considering whether to respond to Monday's ruling, a spokesman said. He could potentially appeal again to the state Supreme Court, but it's unclear if that would delay the case.
"He may do that, but the critical question will be whether the Supreme Court will give him a stay during the review," said David Rudovsky, a University of Pennsylvania law professor.
Cosby is meanwhile locked in a number of legal battles around the country with women who accuse him of sexual assault or defamation.
He has countersued some of them, including the Pennsylvania accuser. His lawsuit accuses her of breach of contract for talking to police who reopened the case last year, given the confidential settlement of the lawsuit she filed against him after Castor turned down the case.
Castor re-emerged in the case last fall as a key defense witness who said he had made a deal that Cosby would never be charged. Castor last year was running to return to the district attorney's office. He was defeated by Steele.
Cosby acknowledged in the deposition that he gave the Temple ex-employee, Andrea Constand, the cold and allergy medicine Benadryl before engaging in sex acts with her at his home near Philadelphia. He calls the encounter consensual.
Constand, who had sought career advice from Cosby, left her job with the Temple women's basketball team that spring. She returned home to Toronto and began training to become a massage therapist.
A year later, she contacted police and told them she had been sexually assaulted.
Thirteen other women came forward by the time she settled her lawsuit in 2006 to say that Cosby had also molested them. Cosby in the deposition described a long history of womanizing, including extramarital affairs with several of the accusers. However, he said he never assaulted anyone or gave them drugs without their knowledge.
Dozens of women have since added their names to the list of accusers. But the statute of limitations had run on virtually all of them, and Constand's is the only case to result in criminal charges.
As the case proceeds, the key issues are likely to include whether other accusers can testify; whether Cosby is unfairly biased by the 12-year delay; and whether his testimony in the civil case can be used against him.