In a controversy that took the nation by storm, Bill Cosby was arrested for the drugging and sexual assault of a woman in 2004. Since allegations first surfaced, dozens of women have come forward accusing Cosby of drugging and raping them. This is the first time Cosby has been arrested or charged with sexual misconduct despite the years of allegations mounting against him. Cosby has been charged with aggravated indecent assault, punishable by five to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
The decision to prosecute came just days before Pennsylvania’s 12-year statute of limitations for bringing charges was set to run out. Prosecutors claim that Cosby assaulted Andrea Constand, a Temple University employee with pills and wine, then penetrating her with his fingers without her consent. Prosecutors reopened the case this summer due to damaging testimony unsealed in Constand’s civil lawsuit against Cosby, as dozens of other women came forward with similar accusations. It is a huge turn of events, as the previous District Attorney in Pennsylvania refused to press charges when Constand first approached law enforcement about her assault in 2005. Cosby claims the encounter was consensual. He was released on $1 million bail.
Cosby also currently faces a slew of defamation and sexual-abuse lawsuits filed in Massachusetts, Los Angeles, and Pennsylvania. In most of those cases, however, it is too late to file criminal charges.
Possession of Rohypnol, the Date Rape Drug
While Mr. Cosby is accused of having used different drugs ranging from Quaaludes in the 1970s to Benadryl, the most common drug used nowadays is Rohypnol, also known as the “date rape” drug. Rohypnol is a trade name for flunitrazepam, a pharmaceutical drug prescribed as a treatment for severe insomnia. It is a potent muscle relaxant and sedative and also blocks a person’s ability to form memory. The USDA has not approved its medical use in the United States.
Under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. § 84, possession of any amount of illegal drug is a crime that carries serious potential prison sentences. However, Prop 47, which was voted into law by ballot initiative back in April 2015, made possession of Rohypnol a misdemeanor instead of a felony. It used to be punishable by up to three years imprisonment. Now, because of Prop 47, a conviction of possession of the date rape drug is punishable by one year imprisonment and up to a $1,000 fine.
It should be noted that these are just the penalties for the possession of the drug. The sentences for any assault associated with or without the date rape drug still remain the same. Continue reading