Bill Cosby’s sex assault conviction overturned by PA Supreme Court after 2 years in prison
Associate Press: Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned Bill Cosby’s sex assault conviction Wednesday after finding an agreement with a previous prosecutor prevented him from being charged within the case.
The 83-year-old Cosby, who was once beloved as “America’s Dad,” was convicted of drugging and molesting Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia estate in 2004.
He was charged in late 2015, when a prosecutor armed with newly unsealed evidence — Cosby’s damaging deposition from her lawsuit — arrested him days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired.
How long was Bill Cosby is prison?
Cosby has served quite two years of a three- to 10-year sentence at a prison near Philadelphia. He had vowed to serve all 10 years instead of acknowledge any remorse over the encounter with Constand.
Why did the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturn Bill Cosby’s conviction?
The judge had allowed only one other accuser to testify at Cosby’s first trial in 2017, when the jury deadlocked. However, he then allowed five other accusers to testify at the retrial about their experiences with Cosby within the 1980s.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said that testimony tainted the trial, albeit a lower appellate court had found it appropriate to point out a signature pattern of drugging and molesting women.
The court also found that Cosby’s second trial was unfair because prosecutors used damaging evidence Cosby turned over in Constand’s civil case to convict him of criminal offenses, albeit a previous DA in Montgomery County years earlier told him those charges were off the table. In effect, the opinion concluded, Cosby was forced to offer up his Fifth Amendment right to self-incrimination.
When an unconditional charging decision is formed publicly and with the intent to induce action and reliance by the defendant, and when the defendant does so to his detriment (and in some instances upon the recommendation of counsel), denying the defendant the advantage of that call is an affront to fundamental fairness, particularly when it leads to a prosecution that was foregone for quite a decade,” the choice concluded
No mere changing of the guard strips that circumstance of its inequity. … For these reasons, Cosby’s convictions and judgment of sentence are vacated, and he’s discharged.”
Could Cosby’s case affect #MeToo-era cases?
Cosby was the primary celebrity tried and convicted within the #MeToo era, therefore the reversal could make prosecutors wary of calling other accusers in similar cases. The law on prior bad act testimony varies by state, though, and therefore the ruling only holds sway in Pennsylvania.
Prosecutors didn’t immediately say if they might appeal or seek to undertake Cosby for a 3rd time.
Cosby’s spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment, or clarity on when he would be released from prison.
The Pennsylvania justices voiced concern not almost sexual abuse cases, but what they saw because the judiciary’s increasing tendency to permit testimony that crosses the road into character attacks. The law allows the testimony only in limited cases, including to point out a criminal offense pattern so specific it serves to spot the perpetrator.
In ny , the judge presiding over last year’s trial of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, whose case had sparked the explosion of the #MeToo movement in 2017, let four other accusers testify. Weinstein was convicted and sentenced to 23 years in prison. he’s now facing separate charges in California.
In In Cosby’s case, one among his appellate lawyers said prosecutors placed on vague evidence about the uncharged conduct, including Cosby’s own recollections in his deposition about giving women alcohol or quaaludes before sexual encounters
The presumption of innocence just didn’t exist for him,” Jennifer Bonjean, the lawyer, argued to the court in December.
Cosby previously denied parole
In May, Cosby was denied paroled after refusing to participate in convict programs during his nearly three years in prison . He has long said he would resist the treatment programs and refuse to acknowledge wrongdoing albeit it means serving the complete 10-year sentences.
This is that the first year he was eligible for parole under the three- to 10-year sentence handed down after his 2018 conviction.
Cosby spokesperson Andrew Wyatt called the parole board decision “appalling.”
Prosecutors said Cosby repeatedly used his fame and “family man” persona to control young women, holding himself out as a mentor before betraying them.
Cosby, a groundbreaking Black actor who grew up publicly housing in Philadelphia, made a fortune estimated at $400 million during his 50 years within the show business . His trademark clean comedy and homespun wisdom fueled popular TV shows, books and standup acts.
fell from favor in his later years as he lectured the Black community about family values, but was attempting a comeback when he was arrested.
“There was a built-in level of trust due to his status within the show business and since he held himself out as a public moralist,” Assistant DA Adrienne Jappe, of suburban Montgomery County, argued to the justices.
Cosby had invited Constand to an estate he owns in Pennsylvania the night she said he drugged and sexually assaulted her.
Constand, a former basketball player who worked at his school , visited police a year later. the opposite accusers knew Cosby through the show business and didn’t attend police.
The AP doesn’t typically identify sexual abuse victims without their permission, which Constand has granted.
Source: USA Today