Bill Cosby is a free man, but is he innocent?
Disgraced comedian Bill Cosby was released from prison on Wednesday after Pennsylvania's highest court overturned his sexual assault conviction. Cosby declared his innocence by tweeting a victorious picture after the release. Andrea Constand, the only assault accuser whose allegations resulted in criminal charges, held that the decision was "disappointing" and could discourage other victims from speaking up. Here's everything you need to know.
I have never changed my stance nor my story. I have always maintained my innocence.— Bill Cosby (@BillCosby) June 30, 2021
Thank you to all my fans, supporters and friends who stood by me through this ordeal. Special thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for upholding the rule of law. #BillCosby pic.twitter.com/bxELvJWDe5
Pennsylvania Supreme Court said Cosby had believed the previous district attorney Bruce Castor's decision not to charge him when he gave his testimony in Constand's civil case. In the testimony, Cosby said that he did give quaaludes, a sedative, to women and also admitted of his involvement with Constand. This "non-prosecution agreement" was made in 2005, which however was apparently never penned down.
For Kevin Steele, the attorney who made the decision to arrest Cosby, to criminally charge and convict the comedian more than a decade later was "an affront to fundamental fairness." The judges held that freeing the 83-year-old now was the "only remedy."
So the TV star's release was due to "a procedural issue that is irrelevant to the facts of the crime," as per Steele. To note, the court has overturned his 2018 conviction, where he was found guilty on all three counts of drugging and sexually assaulting Constand at his Philadelphia home in 2004. Over 50 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault.
Our statement. pic.twitter.com/px4Y5cqYaZ— Andrea C. she/her/they/them (@ConstandAndrea) June 30, 2021
"America's Dad" constantly denied all allegations, maintaining these were consensual. His conviction, however, had given a major thrust to the #MeToo movement. The decision to vacate the conviction comes after Cosby served more than two years of his three-to-10-year sentence. Jennifer Bonjean, an attorney for Cosby, said that prosecutors shouldn't have tried the case and that "they pulled the rug out from under him."
Constand was an employee at Temple University, where Cosby was a trustee. In 2005, she first informed police, alleging he had drugged and molested her. The then Montgomery district attorney didn't press charges and in 2006, Constand and Cosby settled a $3.38 million civil lawsuit. Years later, new district attorney Steele, filed charges after several women spoke out against The Cosby Show star's misconduct.
When the 2004 case was reopened by Steele, American actress Barbara Bowman also accused the octogenarian of sexual offenses. Despite multiple accusations against Cosby, only Constand's allegations resulted in criminal charges because the others were dismissed as too old to be prosecuted.