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Montco authorities meet with Cosby & his lawyer

By NICOLE WEISENSEE EGAN and RAMONA SMITH Montgomery County detectives interviewed entertainer Bill Cosby for 90minutes yesterday morning about groping accusations made against him by a former Temple University employee.

Afterward, Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor, Jr. said that both Cosby and his attorney, Walter Phillips, Jr. had been "fully cooperative. " The alleged victim was cooperative when she was interviewed, too, he said, but he has not made any determination on whether she's credible.

"I won't make any decision concerning anyone's credibility until all of the statements are taken and all of the evidence is in," he told a news conference in Norristown.

Castor said the woman's one-year delay in reporting what he termed"inappropriate touching" was a problem, as are reports that she had"contacts" with Cosby afterward.

"Usually in large time gaps, it involves frightened children victims," he said. With adults "jurors tend to frown upon lengthy delay between the conduct and the reporting unless they are given a good explanation."

He said detectives would continue interviewing and checking the stories.They will also check phone records to back up dates and times when events occurred and "determine exactly what happened and whether there was any violation of law."

That should take a couple of weeks, which is when Castor will decide whether to prosecute. The key issue in that decision is whether the accused acted with criminal intent, he said.

"We punish people for intentional or reckless criminal conduct," Castor said. "We don't punish people for making mistakes and doing stupid things. The dividing line between intentional or reckless criminal conduct and making a stupid or foolish mistake is one of the more difficult decisions a prosecutor has to make."

Phillips said he met with Cosby Tuesday to prepare for the meeting, then accompanied him to the undisclosed location yesterday for the interview with Montgomery County and Cheltenham Township detectives.

"Mr. Cosby answered all of the questions and he answered them truthfully," said Phillips, who would not elaborate.

The alleged victim now has two lawyers representing her - Bebe Kivitz and Dolores Troiani, of Devon, Chester County. While they were retained to"assist her" in the criminal investigation, Troiani did not rule out a civil lawsuit against Cosby.

"That's an obvious possibility," Troiani said last night. She also said it was not unusual for sexual-assault victims to delay reporting.

"There are many reasons why victims of sexual assault do not come forward immediately," Troiani, a former prosecutor, said. "Fear. Shame.Particularly with sexual assault, there's betrayal. There's the fact that he's a celebrity. This is a man she thought was a friend, a mentor. It's perfectly understandable why she would have difficulty coming forward. Id on't get why people don't seem to understand that."

Another factor was the woman's enrollment in massage-therapy school inCanada, she said."She was having a hard time dealing with this, and here she was in class talking about consent, the ethics of massage therapy and touching people," she said. "I think that was the trigger that caused her to tell her mother."

Troiani also clarified what her client has told authorities happened to her. She said it occurred at Cosby's Elkins Park mansion last January orFebruary. They did not go out to dinner as reported earlier, but they were at the mansion, where she'd been before, because they were friends.

After her client complained of stress and tension, she alleges that Cosby gave her pills that he told her were "herbal medication," which made her woozy.

"It affected her sufficiently that she was impaired, she couldn't move," Troiani said, which is when the victim alleges the "indecent assault"occurred.

The woman said she woke around 4 a.m. with her bra undone and her clothes in disarray, and drove herself home, Troiani said.

After that, the woman saw Cosby only one more time, Troiani said. Although the Toronto Sun reported that the victim's parents had said in an interview that their daughter had introduced them to Cosby when he was in Canada last August, Troiani said the parents said they had never told the newspaper that.

"Her mother said she met Bill Cosby at a concert at Ray Thompson Hall inToronto in March 2003," Troiani said. "Her father said he never met him, but he's spoken to him on the phone."

Troiani said that her client was in therapy and that the whole experience has been difficult for her.

"It's had the obvious effect on her as it would any victim of sexual assault," she said. "Nightmares, flashbacks, problems with attention."

Phillips, meanwhile, said he and his client have provided investigators with the name of the chef who was working for Cosby at his Elkins Park mansion at the time of the alleged groping. Detectives have interviewed the chef, he said."

When we offered his name to them, they jumped at the opportunity to interview him," Phillips said. "So we've done everything we can to move the investigation along."

Nicki Egan:
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