Bill Cosby’s prison sentence overturned

July 8, 2021

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction on Wednesday, June 30, 2021, paving the way for the 83-year-old to be released from prison after serving more than two years of a three- to ten-year sentence. Cosby was released from jail on the same day his conviction was overturned.

The court said that a promise a previous prosecutor had made not to prosecute Cosby in order to compel him to testify in a civil lawsuit meant he couldn’t legally be charged in the sexual assault case.

In 2018, Cosby was convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his Pennsylvania estate in 2004, leading to a sentence in September 2018 of three to ten years in prison.

But in 2005, then Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor determined the case against Cosby was unwinnable, leading to an agreement that Cosby would not be charged—but he would be deposed for a civil suit brought by Constand.

That deposition was used years later to charge Cosby just days before the statute of limitations for sexual assault was set to expire, leading to a 2017 mistrial after jurors deadlocked.

Cosby was tried again in 2018, and was convicted after prosecutors called several women who’d made similar claims of drugging and sexual assault to testify— which did not happen in the 2017 trial.

The Supreme Court also ruled that allowing the accusers’ testimony was inappropriate, finding it served as more of a character attack than affirming a pattern of criminal behavior.

The court barred any possibility of a retrial, so he can’t be tried on these same charges. He could, however, potentially face new charges if a credible accuser comes forward within the statute of limitations, which can vary by state.

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