Cosby Freed After Sex Assault Conviction Is Overturned

Pennsylvania's highest court cited agreement he made with previous prosecutor
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 30, 2021 11:53 AM CDT
Updated Jun 30, 2021 1:46 PM CDT
Bill Cosby's Sex Assault Conviction Was Just Overturned
In this April 26, 2018 file photo, actor and comedian Bill Cosby departs the courthouse after he was found guilty in his sexual assault retrial, at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa.   (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

Pennsylvania's highest court on Wednesday vacated Bill Cosby’s sex assault conviction, and hours later the New York Times reported Cosby has been freed. He reportedly left the prison just after 2pm and was headed for his suburban Philly home. Fox43 reports the 83-year-old appealed in December to the court, which agreed to review two components of the case: a judge's decision to allow testimony from five other accusers and an agreement Cosby had with a previous prosecutor that his lawyers maintained prevented him from being charged in the case. The court determined Cosby's due process rights were indeed violated. The ruling reads in part: "There is only one remedy that can completely restore Cosby to the status quo ante. 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." More:

  • Cosby has served more than two years of a three- to 10-year sentence at a state prison near Philadelphia. He has maintained he committed no wrongdoing in the 2004 encounter with accuser Andrea Constand, whom he was convicted of drugging and molesting at his suburban estate.

  • Cosby was charged in late 2015, when a prosecutor armed with newly unsealed evidence—Cosby's damaging deposition from Constand's lawsuit—arrested him days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired. The court said that District Attorney Kevin Steele, who made the decision to arrest Cosby, was obligated to stand by his predecessor’s promise not to charge Cosby when he later gave potentially incriminating testimony in Constand's civil suit. There was no evidence that promise was ever put in writing, reports the AP.
  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court also disagreed with the trial judge's decision to allow testimony from five women other than Constand. The trial judge had allowed just one other accuser to testify at Cosby's first trial, in which the jury deadlocked. He then allowed the other five to testify at the retrial about their experiences with Cosby in the 1980s.
  • Cosby Show co-star Phylicia Rashad tweeted her reaction to the news: "FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!"
(More Bill Cosby stories.)

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