Bill Cosby released from prison after his sex conviction was overturned

Pennsylvania's highest court overturned Bill Cosby's conviction for sexual assault and released him from prison on Wednesday. This remarkable turn of fortune was a major victory for the comedian, once called "America's Dad." The court found that Cosby's predecessor had not charged him.

Bill Cosby released from prison after his sex conviction was overturned

After serving almost three years for drugging and violating Temple University's sports administrator Andrea Constand, Cosby, now 83, flashed his V-for Victory sign to the helicopter as he made his way into his suburban Philadelphia home.

The ex-Cosby Show star, who was the first celebrity to be tried and convicted under #MeToo, didn't comment upon his arrival. He smiled and nodded at a news conference outside where Jennifer Bonjean, his lawyer, said that they were "excited to have Mr. Cosby back."

She added, "He served three consecutive years of an unjust sentence. He did it with dignity & principle."

Cosby was taken into custody in 2015. A district attorney, armed with new evidence -- Constand's comic's damaging deposition in a lawsuit -- filed charges against him days before the 12-year statute expired.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Kevin Steele, the District Attorney who decided to arrest Cosby was bound to honor his predecessor's promise to not charge him, even though there is no evidence to support that agreement.

Justice David Wecht, who wrote for a split court, stated that Cosby relied on the decision of the previous district attorney not to charge him when he gave his potentially incriminating testimony during Constand's civil case.

Cosby's arrest was called "an affront against fundamental fairness especially when it results in a penal prosecution that is forgone for more than a ten year." The court said justice and "fairness and decency" require the office of the district attorney to stand by the decision made by the previous DA.

According to the justices, overturning convictions and preventing further prosecutions "is the only way to meet society's reasonable expectations regarding its elected prosecutors" and the criminal justice system.

Cosby was quickly released from the state prison in suburban Montgomery County, and taken home.

Andrew Wyatt, another Cosby attorney, stated that "What we saw today" was justice, justice to all Americans. "Mr. "Mr.

Bonjean stated that Cosby was "extremely glad to be home" but also "looks forward " to reuniting his family with his wife and children.

Steele stated that Cosby was freed "on a procedural matter that is irrelevant to facts of the crime" and that Constand's coming forward "my hope is that this decision won't dampen reporting by victims of sexual assaults."

Constand and her lawyer didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment.


Amber Tamblyn, actor and founder of Time's Up (an advocacy group for victims sexual assault victims), tweeted that she was furious to hear the news. "I know of women that this man drugged, raped and raped unconscious. Shame on the court for this decision.

The majority of Supreme Court justices ruled in Cosby’s favor. Three others dissented either in whole or part.

Peter Goldberger, a Philadelphia-based lawyer who specializes in criminal appeals, stated that prosecutors could request reconsideration or reargument from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, but it would not be possible.

Goldberger stated, "I cannot imagine that with such an extensive opinion, with a thoughtful concurring view and a thoughtful dissident opinion, that they could truly say that they made a simple error that would change their mind if they pointed it out."

Although Cosby was only charged with assaulting Constand, the judge allowed five other accusers to testify at his trial that they were also victimized in the 1980s by Cosby. To establish a pattern of behavior by Cosby, the prosecution called them witnesses.

Cosby's lawyers argued that the addition of five more accusers was inappropriate. The Pennsylvania high court didn't decide on the matter, stating that it was moot because Cosby had been found not guilty of the charges.

New York's Harvey Weinstein trial judge, who was convicted in the case that led to the #MeToo movement, allowed four other accusers to testify. Weinstein was sentenced to 23-years in prison after being convicted.

Cosby was sentenced by the trial judge as a sexually violent predator who couldn't be safely out in the public and must report to authorities for his entire life.

Cosby refused to take part in the sex offender programs at his prison cell and was denied parole in May. He stated that he would not accept treatment programs and refuses to admit wrongdoing, even if it meant serving 10 years.

The pioneering Black actor was raised in Philadelphia's public housing and earned a fortune of $400 million over his 50-year career in entertainment. This included comedy albums, "I Spy", "The Cosby Show," and "Fat Albert."

Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor (a suburban Philadelphia prosecutor) initially investigated Constand's allegations. He considered the case flawed because Constand did not come forward for a year and continued to communicate with Cosby. Castor declined to pursue Constand and encouraged him to sue for damages.

Cosby was questioned under oath in the lawsuit. He said that he used to give quaaludes for women who he wanted to have sexual relations with. Constand eventually paid him $3.4 million.

The Associated Press requested that portions of the deposition be made public. This led to Cosby's downfall. It opened the floodgates for accusations from other women, and ruined the comic's career and reputation as a good guy. More than 60 women claimed that Cosby had violated their rights.

Constand granted permission for the AP to identify victims of sexual assault without their consent.

In the deposition, Cosby admitted to giving quaaludes a 19 year-old girl before they had sex at a Las Vegas hotel back in 1976. Cosby called the encounter consensual.

The woman, Now 64-year-old Therese Serignese, stated Wednesday that the court's decision "takes my breathe away."

"I think it's a miscarriage in justice. This is all about procedure. She said that it's not about the truth for the women. Serignese stated that she found comfort in the fact Cosby spent nearly three years in prison: "That's as good an America gets for victims of sex crimes."

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