1:42 PM PDT, June 30, 2021
Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction was overturned Wednesday by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and the 83-year-old entertainer walked from prison a free man.
The ruling, which stunned many, also bans any further prosecution in the case.
The state’s highest court tossed Cosby’s conviction because of an agreement he had with a prior prosecutor that would have prevented Cosby from being criminally charged in the case, the ruling said.
The once-beloved celebrity has served more than two years of a three-to-10-year sentence in a Philadelphia area state prison. He vowed to spend all 10 years behind bars rather than express remorse over a 2004 encounter with accuser Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee who said Cosby drugged and molested her at his estate in 2004.
He was charged in 2015 over the allegations and arrested just days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired.
Wednesday’s ruling also faulted the trial court judge’s decision to let prosecutors call five other accusers in addition to Constand, saying it tainted the trial, despite a lower appeals court opinion that it appropriately showed a signature pattern of drugging and molesting women.
Cosby’s publicist, Andrew Wyatt, collected Cosby at the State Correctional Institution Phoenix in Montgomery County.
“I want to thank the Supreme Court who saw the light and saw the truth,” Cosby’s family said in a statement released by Wyatt.
One accuser, Victoria Valentino, said in a statement: “I am outraged! Outraged! Stunned! My stomach is in knots. The work that we have done to uplift women has been overturned by a legal glitch. We now have a serial predator on the street.”
Attorney Gloria Allred, who represented other accusers, said, “My heart especially goes out to those who bravely testified in both of his criminal cases. I represented a majority of the prior bad act accusers who testified.”
“Despite the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision, this was an important fight for justice and even though the court overturned the conviction on technical grounds, it did not vindicate Bill Cosby’s conduct and should not be interpreted as a statement or a finding that he did not engage in the acts of which he has been accused,” she said in a statement.
Actress Phylicia Rashad took to social media praising her former co-star from “The Cosby Show.”
“FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!” Rashad tweeted.
The 73-year-old Rashad, who played Clair Huxtable on the long-running “The Cosby Show,” has long stood by Cosby throughout the slew of sexual assault allegations made against him.
In January 2015, responding to a question about multiple women accusing Cosby, Rashad replied, “Forget these women. What you are seeing is the destruction of a legacy, and it’s a legacy that is so important to the culture.”