The embattled funnyman was slapped with a felony charge of aggravated indecent assault on Wednesday morning (30Dec15), amid allegations he drugged and sexually assaulted Andrea Constand at his mansion in Pennsylvania in January, 2004.

Cosby denied the accusations at the time and was not charged with any crime, and he settled a civil suit with Constand, a former employee at his alma mater, Philadelphia's Temple University, in 2006.

His deposition in the lawsuit was only made public over the summer (15), after dozens of other women came forward with similar, decades-old accusations against the funnyman, and in the testimony, he confessed to buying sedatives to give to women he wanted to sleep with. That was enough for officials to reopen the case and, on Wednesday, they issued an arrest warrant for Cosby.

The 78-year-old turned himself in to police hours later and was arraigned in a Montgomery County courthouse. He did not enter a plea and spoke only to confirm he understood the terms of his bail, which included refraining from having any contact with his accuser and handing over his passport.

A preliminary hearing was set for 14 January (16), and Cosby was released after booking.

His attorneys have since broken their silence about the count, which they have blasted as "unjustified".

The statement reads: "Make no mistake, we intend to mount a vigorous defense against this unjustified charge and we expect that Mr. Cosby will be exonerated by a court of law."

A number of the fallen TV star's other accusers applauded prosecutors for finally taking action on Wednesday, and before the arraignment, filmmaker Judd Apatow, who has been an outspoken critic of Cosby's, also weighed in on the legal development.

"Bill Cosby has spent his life attempting to silence the women he has assaulted with threats, lawsuits and money," Apatow wrote on "Hopefully now many of these women will get to tell their stories in a court of law and the people who supported him will get deposed."

If convicted, Cosby faces a maximum penalty of five to 10 years behind bars and a $25,000 (£16,670) fine.