Jun 30, 2021
The seven-judge panel ruled that Cosby should not have been convicted in 2018 on three counts of aggravated indecent assault of his former mentee, Andrea Constand, due to a "non-prosecution agreement" he had reached earlier with a former prosecutor.
Cosby struck an agreement--of which there is no written record, according to the Associated Press--in 2005 with former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor Jr. As he was being investigated for drugging and sexually assaulting Constand, Castor gave Cosby an assurance that he would not be prosecuted if he testified in a civil case brought by Constand.
"His release means that Cosby, a sexual predator, was incarcerated within a criminal legal system that has as little regard for its own rules and procedures as Cosby does for his victims."
--Marc Lamont Hill, Temple University
The assurance led Cosby to testify that he had given quaaludes to women in order to rape them--a testimony that was used by Castor's successor to charge Cosby in 2015, days before the statute of limitations expired in Constand's case.
"In light of these circumstances, the subsequent decision by successor D.A.s to prosecute Cosby violated Cosby's due process rights," the state's high court said in its ruling.
The ruling will allow Cosby to leave the maximum-security facility where he's been imprisoned after serving nearly three years of his three-to-10 year sentence. The justices barred prosecutors from attempting to retry the case in Pennsylvania.
The anti-sexual assault campaign No More was among those expressing support for dozens of survivors who came forward to accuse Cosby of a pattern of abuse and violence that was exemplified by Constand's case.
\u201cToday, our hearts are with the 60 women who came forward, and all survivors whose abusers haven't been held accountable. Bill Cosby's conviction has been overturned, paving the way for his release. Survivors of his decades of assault deserve justice.#MeToo https://t.co/rQCtHFpIje\u201d— NO MORE (@NO MORE) 1625075483
Temple University professor and author Marc Lamont Hill emphasized that the court's decision did not exonerate Cosby, but rather revealed the inner workings of an unjust legal system.
\u201cBILL COSBY IS NOT INNOCENT. HE HAS NOT BEEN EXONERATED. His release means that Cosby, a sexual predator, was incarcerated within a criminal legal system that has as little regard for its own rules and procedures as Cosby does for his victims.\u201d— Marc Lamont Hill (@Marc Lamont Hill) 1625076902
Josie Duffy Rice, former president of criminal justice publication The Appeal, blamed "prosecutorial misconduct" for the outcome of Cosby's case, in which the former TV star vowed to serve all 10 years of his sentence rather than express remorse or admit wrongdoing despite his earlier admission that he had drugged and raped women.
A number of observers linked the ruling to the fact that more than two-thirds of sexual assaults are never reported to the police, with survivors reticent to try to convince law enforcement, the court system, and in cases like Cosby's, the broader public, that their experience really happened.
\u201ci never wanna hear "well did you report it?" again. 60 women accused Bill Cosby, and even with 60 accusers we took years to convict, and now he's going free anyway. there are no consequences for rape and rapists know that. so let's be real: rape is fully legal in this country.\u201d— Lane Moore\ud83c\udf83NYC 12/1 (@Lane Moore\ud83c\udf83NYC 12/1) 1625076185
"We stand with all 60 survivors of Cosby's actions, who bravely came forward with their experiences, which include being drugged, raped, assaulted, threatened, and gaslighted, only to find their abuser let off the hook," said Shaunna Thomas, executive director of women's advocacy group UltraViolet. "Today is a blow to survivors everywhere, who deserve so much better than this."
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