Bill Cosby to face 1st sexual assault trial on June 5

Washington: A US judge on Tuesday set June 5 as the date on which comedian Bill Cosby will go to trial for sexual assault.

His accuser in this first trial is Andrea Constand, one of the more than 50 women who have come forward to accuse the comic of sexual assault, claiming that he attacked her in 2004, EFE news reported.

Judge Elizabeth McHugh, presiding in a court in Norristown, Pennsylvania, announced the trial date on Tuesday at the close of a preliminary hearing at which Cosby was present.

The 79-year-old actor -- much beloved nationwide before allegations of rape and sexual assault began to surface against him -- will face three counts of aggravated sexual assault, and if convicted he could face up to 10 years in prison, according to several Pennsylvania legal experts.

Cosby arrived at the Norristown court wearing a light grey suit amid a hubbub of media attention, with dozens of television cameras focusing on him.

In May, Judge McHugh opened legal proceedings against Cosby because she said sufficient evidence existed to place him on trial for drugging and molesting Andrea Constand in 2004 at his Philadelphia-area home.

Cosby, the star of the hugely successful sitcom "The Cosby Show", and other TV programmes, on several occasions has denied the accusations of sexual abuse and says that his sexual relationship with Constand was consensual.

Constand, now 43 and living in Canada, was not present at the preliminary hearings for the trial and a detective read in court the testimony she gave to police 11 years ago.

In that statement, Constand claimed that one evening in early 2004, Cosby drugged and raped her at his mansion in Chelteham, Pennsylvania, a pattern of behaviour that dozens of other women have said they experienced at the actor's hands, EFE news added.

Cosby's attorneys denounced the fact that prosecutors have not called Constand anew to testify so that they may cross-examine her, a request that the magistrate has previously denied.

The complaints of sexual abuse against Cosby date back to the 1960s, although those happened too long ago to allow him to be brought to trial on them, but Constand's case could be crucial in providing substantiation for sexual assaults allegedly suffered by dozens of women over several decades.