Bill Cosby released from prison after court overturns sexual assault conviction – CBS News
Bill Cosby was released from prison Wednesday after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his 2018 sexual assault conviction, saying the comedian was “denied a fair trial.” Cosby, 83, was convicted of sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004 and had served three years of a three- to 10-year sentence.
In its ruling, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said a “non-prosecution agreement” with a former district attorney prevented Cosby from facing charges. With the understanding that he would not be prosecuted, the court said Cosby gave sworn depositions in a separate civil case in which he made “incriminating statements” without the protection of his Fifth Amendment rights.
Castor’s successor, District Attorney Kevin Steele, violated the terms of the agreement when he arrested Cosby in 2015. Three years later, Cosby was convicted on three counts of indecent assault and sentenced to state prison.
In 2005, Bruce Castor, the top prosecutor in Montgomery County, found it would be difficult to prosecute Cosby without any “corroborating forensic evidence” and because testimony from other accusers would be inadmissible, the court wrote.
“In light of these circumstances, the subsequent decision by successor D.A.s to prosecute Cosby violated Cosby’s due process rights,” the judges wrote.
“There is only one remedy that can completely restore Cosby to the status quo ante,” they wrote. “He must be discharged, and any future prosecution on these particular charges must be barred. We do not dispute that this remedy is both severe and rare. But it is warranted here, indeed compelled.”
In a statement, Constand and her legal team said the court’s decision was “not only disappointing” but concerning because it could “discourage those who seek justice in the criminal justice system from reporting or participating in the prosecution of the assailant or may force a victim to choose between filing either a criminal or civil action.”
“Once again, we remain grateful to those women who came forward to tell their stories, to DA Kevin Steele and the excellent prosecutors who achieve a conviction at trial, despite the ultimate outcome which resulted from a procedural technicality, and we urge all victims to have their voices heard,” the statement said.
Cosby celebrated the decision late Wednesday. “I have never changed my stance nor my story,” he said in a statement. “I have always maintained my innocence. Thank you to all my fans, supporters and friends who stood by me through this ordeal. Special thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for upholding the rule of law.”
Earlier Wednesday, his attorney Jennifer Bonjean said Cosby served as a mentor to inmates behind bars and said the court demonstrated they were “impervious to the court of public opinion.”
In a statement, Steele said Cosby was freed on a “procedural issue that is irrelevant to the facts of the crime.”
“The majority decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court orders the release of William H. Cosby Jr. from state prison,” Steele said. “I want to commend Cosby’s victim Andrea Constand for her bravery in coming forward and remaining steadfast throughout this long ordeal, as well as all of the other women who have shared similar experiences. My hope is that this decision will not dampen the reporting of sexual assaults by victims.”
Phylicia Rashad, who played Cosby’s wife on “The Cosby Show,” celebrated the news Wednesday. “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted — a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”
Meanwhile, Amber Tamblyn, a co-founder of Time’s Up, was angered by it: “I am furious to hear this news. I personally know women who this man drugged and raped while unconscious. Shame on the court and this decision.”