Bruce Castor’s lamentable legal career changed after Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, voters rejected his 2015 bid to return as district attorney, a job he’d given up in 2008. By January, Castor he’d become infamous representing President Trump at his second impeachment trial.
Wearing a hopelessly oversized pinstriped suit, Castor’s pompous ineptitude was immediately evident. Castor introduced himself to Senate jurors as “lead prosecutor” of the 45th president. That sometimes seemed true.
After House Manager Joe Neguse, a Democrat from Lafayette, powerfully argued accountability was necessary when outgoing presidents abuse power and obstruct justice, Castor responded that Trump accountability was now obtainable via criminal prosecutions since he had clearly lost the 2020 election. Double oops! Trump was enraged by Castor’s confessions and bumbling performance.
Castor’s job was to stop Republican defections. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, said she was “left perplexed” by Castor “who did not seem to make any arguments at all, which was an unusual approach to take.” Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy said Castor did a “terrible job.”
Castor aimed these arrows at Republican Sen. Ben Sasse: “There seem to be some pretty smart jurists in Nebraska, and I can’t believe the United States senator doesn’t know that. A senator like the gentleman from Nebraska . . . faces a whirlwind even though he knows what the judiciary in his state thinks.”
Nice argument, huh? Vote my way or reap the Trumpian whirlwind. Sasse voted guilty anyway. So did Collins, Cassidy and four more Republicans. If only Castor could’ve kept talking, perhaps the necessary two-thirds vote margin was reachable. But Trump escaped by losing only 57-43. Castor basked in so-called victory following this “rigged jury” trial.
Back in 2005, DA Bruce Castor refused to let a local jury decide whether Bill Cosby was guilty of drugging and raping Andrea Constand the year before. After consulting with Cosby attorneys, Castor announced he was rejecting criminal charges against Cosby because of Constand’s delayed reporting and purported inconsistencies.
Further, Castor announced he wanted Cosby free to testify following Castor’s declined prosecution in Montgomery County. And sure enough, likely with advice from his attorneys that testifying in reliance on Castor’s promise would shield him, America’s former favorite father and comedian testified at deposition in the Constand civil case.
Cosby’s deposition testimony was remarkable. He confessed to drugging many women and having sex with them thereafter. After Cosby’s then-secret deposition, Constand obtained a confidential $3.38 million settlement in 2006. But Constand was not finished.
Just as Castor sought to reclaim his old DA job, Constand sued Castor for defamation. Following his loss in the 2015 DA race to Kevin Steele, Castor foolishly fired back with a lawsuit against Constand, and her civil attorneys, for “ruining his political career.” That case was dismissed by a Pennsylvania judge in 2018. As for Constand’s defamation suit against Castor, in 2019 she scored another civil settlement.
Cosby’s 2006 deposition testimony was used against him at his criminal trial in April 2018 for crimes against Constand. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court last week determined Cosby’s constitutional due process rights were violated since he had testified at deposition in reliance on Castor’s verbal assurances. Cosby’s criminal convictions were vacated, and he was liberated from prison. Castor’s ill-advised public pronouncements had effectively granted Cosby immunity.
Cosby and Castor remained arrogant following last week’s appellate reversal. Castor told Philadelphia media he did everything perfectly. Castor took credit for unleashing the civil justice whirlwind against Cosby. “The choices became do nothing or do something. I chose to do something,” Castor said, analogizing to a chess game.
“If the civil lawyers played the pieces right, they would get Cosby deposed. He would say things that were incriminating, and they would then use that to leverage a settlement worth millions of dollars. Well, that’s exactly what happened,” said Castor.
Unfortunately, unlike Andrea Constand, most Cosby victims were barred from civil justice because statutes of limitations had expired. Cosby victimized several Colorado women and inspired Colorado’s 2016 legislation which doubled the statute of limitations for rape to 20 years, but not long enough back for most Cosby accusers to recover anything.
It was last century when Cosby regularly visited Denver, performing at the Turn of the Century nightclub on East Hampden Avenue. Beth Ferrier, Heidi Thomas and Barbara Bowman were three Colorado women Cosby victimized.
They were young show business aspirants working for talent agent, Jo Farrell, a good friend of Cosby. Bowman’s compelling 2014 Washington Post column, and that paper’s follow-up reporting, made clear that Cosby was a serial rapist.
Following last week’s surprising reversal, Bowman texted me that she’s “OK but very disappointed and deflated. The decision may be reversed, but the truth is the truth.”
Bill Cosby long ago joked about Spanish fly. It wasn’t funny then. It’s definitely not funny now. Sexual assault, insurrection and impeachment are not laughing matters.
Craig Silverman is a former Denver chief deputy DA who also has worked in the media for decades. Craig is columnist at large for The Colorado Sun. He practices law at the Denver law firm of Springer & Steinberg, P.C. and is host of The Craig Silverman Show podcast.