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Bill Cosby criminally charged in 2004 sex-assault case, freed on $1M bail

Embattled comedian Bill Cosby was free on bail Wednesday on a felony sexual assault charge.

This article has been updated.

Embattled comedian Bill Cosby was free on bail Wednesday on a felony sexual assault charge — facing the first criminal charge against him after a series of rape accusations began mounting last year.

Cosby appeared in a suburban Philadelphia courtroom and was ordered to surrender his passport after posting 10 percent in cash of a $1 million bond.

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Earlier, the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office announced it had filed an aggravated indecent assault charge against Cosby stemming from an alleged 2004 incident involving a former Temple University employee.

The powerful entertainer arrived at magistrate court wearing a hooded gray sweater and holding a cane. He stumbled slightly after exiting an SUV and had to be held up by two people. He made no comment as he entered and later exited the building.

This booking photograph released by the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office shows Bill Cosby, Dec. 30, 2015, in district court in Elkins Park, Pa.

A preliminary hearing was set for Jan. 14.

"Upon examination of all of the evidence, today we are able to seek justice on behalf of Mr. Cosby's victim," Montgomery County District Attorney-elect Kevin Steele said at a news conference announcing the charge.

Cosby has not previously been charged with a crime. His lawyer has called the allegations "ridiculous" and said it's "completely illogical" that no one would have made reports to police.

"The charge by the Montgomery County District Attorney's office came as no surprise," Cosby's attorneys said in a statement. "Make no mistake, we intend to mount a vigorous defense against this unjustified charge and we expect that Mr. Cosby will be exonerated by a court of law."

Steele said Cosby knew the victim when she was the coach of Temple University's women's basketball team. She considered him "her mentor and her friend," Steele added.

But after looking at new evidence presented earlier this summer, Cosby had twice made unwanted sexual advances toward the woman, according to prosecutors.

Steele said during one incident, Cosby urged her to "take pills that he provided to her" and to drink wine. The effect "made her unable to move or reject his advances," he added.

A transcript of Cosby's deposition in the Constand case, first reported by The New York Times in July, revealed that the comedian acknowledged he had reached into her pants and fondled her.

"I don't hear her say anything. And I don't feel her say anything. And so I continue and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped," he said, according to the transcript.

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He claims she had groped her in return, but she ultimately rejected him when he tried to have continued sexual contact.

"The victim did not consent to any of these acts and reported that she was unable to move or speak and felt 'frozen' and 'paralyzed,'" the district attorney's office said.

In the deposition, Cosby says he gave Constand three half-pills of the cold and allergy medicine Benadryl.

Steele said Wednesday that he gave the victim "three blue pills," but could not say whether they were Quaaludes, as investigators have previously noted. Only Cosby can truly know what they were, he added.

The prosecutor acknowledged that his office acted now because time was running out to charge Cosby in the case.

"Reopening this case was our duty as law enforcement officers with a sworn obligation to uphold our Constitution and to uphold the law," Steele said.

Constand, who works as a massage therapist in her native Canada, is ready to face Cosby in court, her attorney, Dolores Troiani, said this past fall.

"She's a very strong lady," Troiani said, according to The Associated Press. "She'll do whatever they request of her."

The charges add to the towering list of legal problems facing the actor, including defamation and sex-abuse lawsuits filed in Boston, Los Angeles and Pennsylvania. But as for criminal chargers, many of the alleged assaults date back decades, and the statute of limitations has expired in nearly every case.

Cosby's lawyers this month said they will fight an attempt to require his wife, Camille, to give a sworn deposition in a defamation lawsuit filed by seven women who have accused him of sexually assaulting them decades ago.

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