Actor and comedian Bill Cosby arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse for trial for sexual assault on September 24, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
Bill Cosby was released from prison Wednesday after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his sexual assault conviction.
The state’s highest court overturned Cosby’s conviction based on an agreement he made with a former prosecutor that would have prevented Cosby from being prosecuted in the case.
The ruling prohibits a retrial, court documents say.
The 83-year-old comedian was sentenced to three to ten years in prison for two years.
Cosby’s spokesman Andrew Wyatt, who went to jail to get Cosby, said, “We want to thank the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. This is what we fought for and that is justice and justice for black America.”
“This is the justice that Mr. Cosby fought for. You saw the light,” Wyatt said, according to NBC News. “He got a deal and he had immunity. He should never have been charged.”
Cosby was charged with drugging and molesting Andrea Constand, the former Temple University employee whose allegation formed the basis of the criminal investigation, on his property in 2004. He was charged with the alleged assault in 2015 and arrested just days before the 12-year law of restrictions expired. He was convicted in 2018.
“[Cosby] was found guilty by a jury and is now free on a procedural issue that is irrelevant to the facts of the crime, “District Attorney Kevin Steele said in a statement Wednesday.” I hope this decision will not dampen sexual assault reporting “Of victims. Prosecutors in my office will continue to pursue the evidence wherever and to whomever it leads. We still believe that no one is above the law – including the rich, famous and powerful.”
A written agreement from former Montgomery County Attorney Bruce Castor said he would not prosecute Cosby in the Constand case. Castor testified that during his tenure as district attorney, he promised not to file a criminal complaint against the comedian if Cosby testified in a civil lawsuit filed by Constand in 2005.
Castor had determined that prosecutors would have difficulty confirming forensic evidence without Cosby admitting the alleged allegations.
“In seeking ‘a measure of justice’ for Constand, DA Castor decided that the Commonwealth would refuse to prosecute Cosby for the Constand incident, which could compel Cosby to be penalized without perjury in a subsequent civil lawsuit Advantage to testify his privilege of the fifth constitutional amendment against self-incriminating “, it says in the court document.
Cosby testified during four days of testimony from Constand’s attorneys, and the 2006 civil lawsuit was settled for more than $ 3 million.
In 2015, Steele, who succeeded Castor as district attorney, filed a criminal complaint that resulted in Cosby’s incarceration. Castor is also known to defend former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial.
The Supreme Court’s opinion also contradicted the judge’s decision to have the prosecution name five other prosecutors in addition to Constand.
Originally, the trial judge had only allowed one other prosecutor to testify at Cosby’s first trial. However, after the jury got bogged down, the judge then allowed five other prosecutors to testify at Cosby’s retrial.
That statement spoiled the trial, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said, even though the lower appeals court found it appropriate to display a pattern of behavior.
The court ultimately neglected the admissibility of the five other prosecutors as it overturned the verdict based on the agreement with the former prosecutor that prevented Cosby from being prosecuted.
“After discovering a due process violation here, we need to determine what legal remedies Cosby is entitled to,” the court document reads.