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Judge refuses to throw out Bill Cosby case

Cosby is accused of drugging & assaulting a former employee at his alma mater university in 2004.

US entertainer Bill Cosby enters the Montgomery County Courthouse for the second day of a hearing regarding charges stemming from an alleged sexual assault in 2004 in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, on 3 February 2016. Picture: EPA/Tracie Van Auken.

NEW YORK - A Pennsylvania judge has refused to dismiss a sexual-assault case against Bill Cosby, setting the stage for the first criminal prosecution of the once-celebrated comedian, who has for years denied allegations of assault by dozens of women.

The 78-year-old comedian is accused of drugging and assaulting a former employee of his alma mater university in 2004.

He could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Judge Stephen O'Neill refused to throw out the case, rejecting the former district attorney's claim that he granted Cosby immunity from prosecution a decade ago.

Now the case moves to a preliminary hearing in March, to determine whether prosecutors have enough evidence to prove Cosby assaulted Andrea Constand.

The comedian's attorneys have not entered a plea and say they are going to appeal the judge's decision.

More than 50 women have accused Cosby of sexually assaulting them in attacks dating back to the 1960s.

Several civil lawsuits have been filed against him, but many of the incidents are too old to prosecute.

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