The Cosby Show star, 78, appeared in Montgomery County Courthouse on Tuesday (24May16) for a preliminary hearing on felony charges of aggravated indecent assault, amid allegations he drugged and sexually assaulted former Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his Pennsylvania home in 2004.

Judge Elizabeth MCHugh ruled there was sufficient evidence to proceed to trial, and set his arraignment for 20 July (16).

Cosby has since waived a formal arraignment, suggesting he will automatically enter a plea of not guilty, reports Deadline.com.

The judge is now expected to set a start date for the trial, unless the embattled comedian's lawyers manage to strike a plea deal with prosecutors.

Speaking after the hearing, Cosby's lawyer Brian MCMonagle attacked authorities for presenting "weak, inconsistent and incredible evidence" to argue why the case should proceed to trial, and then made it clear his client would continue to fight the allegations.

He stated, "Mr. Cosby is not guilty of any crime and not one single fact presented by the Commonwealth rebuts this truth. Though the Court decided the government reached the low threshold required for today's preliminary hearing, we have no doubt this case ultimately will be resolved in Mr. Cosby's favour."

Constand was not in court for the hearing, during which prosecutors presented a January, 2005 statement she had given to the police about the reported attack, in which she claimed Cosby invited her to his home and instructed her to wear comfortable clothes.

The alleged victim claimed she was given two pills to "take the edge off" and was later sexually assaulted by the actor. At the time, officials declined to prosecute, citing "insufficient credible and admissible evidence", but the case was reopened last year (15) after a recently-unsealed deposition Cosby had previously given as part of Constand's civil suit a decade ago, in which he admitted to obtaining sedatives to give to women he wanted to sleep with, was made public.

The evidence, revealed almost 10 years after the civil dispute was settled, prompted prosecutors to file the criminal counts Cosby now faces.

He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.