Disgraced US comedian Bill Cosby has been released from jail after Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court overturned his sexual assault conviction. However, the overturn is not because the court thinks Cosby was innocent. In fact, the judge highlighted that the prosecution committed a procedural error which they considered a “process violation”.
The 83-year-old served more than two years of his ten-year sentence in a state prison near Philadelphia. In 2018, he was convicted for drugging and raping former basketball player Andrea Constand. She met Cosby in 2002 at Temple University in Philadelphia. Younger than him by decades at the time, she always saw him as a father figure. Constand later testified in court how Cosby drugged and molested her at his home in 2004, saying it left her “frozen”. She came forward to the police in 2005, but to no avail as former state prosecutor Bruce Castor refused to prosecute Castor. Eventually, Constand resorted to suing Cosby for sexual battery and defamation with a settlement in 2006.
In the wave of the #MeToo movement, multiple women came forward against Cosby accusing him of sexual assault. However, he was only convicted for what he did to Constand as many of the assault cases had passed the statute of limitations. In 2018, the #MeToo movement saw Cosby’s conviction as a huge victory for the movement. However, after more than two years, Cosby is once again a free man. So the question is, why was Bill Cosby’s conviction overturned?
Why was Bill Cosby released?
On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said in their verdict that they discovered a “process violation”. However, it isn’t just a clerical error. In the 79-page verdict, the court said they discovered an agreement with former prosecutor Castor where he would not charge Cosby if he testified in Constand’s civil lawsuit. Moreover, judges also found the testimonies from the victims unrelated to the case. They also believed their accounts had tainted the case. The verdict read:
There is only one remedy that can completely restore Cosby to the status quo ante. He must be discharged, and any future prosecution on these particular charges must be barred. We do not dispute that this remedy is both severe and rare. But it is warranted here.
The reaction to his release
As expected, upon Bill Cosby’s release, his lawyer was the happiest. His spokesperson and lawyer Andrew Wyatt told the media:
On this hot day – this is a hot verdict for us. Mr. Cosby has always used his celebrity and his name to uplift women… How could a man who is being watched by the FBI every day be raping and drugging women… especially a black man?
However, most of the reaction to Bill Cosby’s release has been filled with outrage. Most critics cited this as a massive failure of the American Justice System, highlighting how rigged it is in favor of men and the rich. Many compared it to Britney Spears’ inhumane conservatorship and how the Justice system allows for that to happen, but rapists remain free.
What do you think of this case now that Bill Cosby is released? Let us know in the comments below.