The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has ruled that Bill Cosby was denied a fair trial and after spending over two years of a three-to-10-year sentence in a state prison, the comedian is now free.
The ruling overturns Cosby’s 2018 conviction for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004. Constand, a former Temple University employee who testified that she was assaulted by the entertainer in his Pennsylvania mansion, was one of over 50 women who accused Cosby of sexual assault.
The court found in favor of Cosby’s attorneys who’d argued that the now 83-year old entertainer had relied on an agreement made with prior prosecutor, Bruce Castor, that would have prevented him from being criminally charged in the case and was led to believe that the testimony he’d originally given at the time was immune from prosecution. It was Castor who had originally declined to charge Cosby in 2005.
“In accordance with the advice his attorneys, Cosby relied upon D.A. Castor’s public announcement that he would not be prosecuted,” the ruling read. “His reliance was reasonable, and it resulted in the deprivation of a fundamental constitutional right when he was compelled to furnished self-incriminating testimony. Cosby reasonably relied upon the Commonwealth’s decision for approximately ten years. When he announced his declination decision on behalf of the Commonwealth, District Attorney Castor knew that Cosby would be forced to testify based upon the Commonwealth’s assurances. Knowing that he induced Cosby’s reliance, and that his decision not to prosecute was designed to do just that, D.A. Castor made no attempt in 2005 or in any of the ten years that followed to remedy any misperception or to stop Cosby from openly and detrimentally relying upon that decision. In light of these circumstances, the subsequent decision by successor D.A.s to prosecute Cosby violated Cosby’s due process rights. No other conclusion comports with the principles of due process and fundamental fairness to which all aspects of our criminal justice system must adhere.”
Having identified a due process violation, the judges ruled that the remedy must match the impact and have barred Cosby from being retried in the case.