Disgraced comedian Bill Cosby, who’s been accused by 60 women of sexual misconduct, was released from a state prison in Pennsylvania on Wednesday shortly after the state Supreme Court overturned his 2018 conviction for aggravated indecent assault.
Cosby, 83, was freed after more than two years of a 10-year sentence for drugging and molesting a Temple University basketball coach named Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. In her victim impact statement, she said the trial left her “traumatized all over again.”
But the Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined Wednesday that Cosby’s conviction in a second trial ― after the first ended in a hung jury ― was invalid. The court found that Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, who initiated Cosby’s arrest, was obligated to stand by a promise his predecessor had made not to charge Cosby, though there is no evidence that promise was ever put in writing, The Associated Press reported.
The predecessor who made that promise to Cosby was Bruce Castor, who defended former President Donald Trump ― another man with dozens of sexual misconduct allegations against him ― in his second impeachment trial.
Cosby cannot be charged again on Constand’s existing accusations.
Footage showed the comedian arriving home Wednesday and flashing the cameras a peace sign as he exited a vehicle.
Steele issued a statement expressing his frustration with Wednesday’s development and promising to continue prosecuting sex crimes.
“He was found guilty by a jury and now goes free on a procedural issue that is irrelevant to the facts of the crime,” he said of Cosby.
“My hope is that this decision will not dampen the reporting of sexual assaults by victims,” he continued. “Prosecutors in my office will continue to follow the evidence wherever and to whomever it leads. We still believe that no one is above the law — including those who are rich, famous and powerful.”
The “Cosby Show” star, who had opted to serve the full 10 years rather than admit any remorse over his encounter with Constand, has maintained his innocence. Most of the crimes he’s been accused of fell outside the statute of limitations, and his 2015 arrest in Constand’s case took place just 12 days before that window of opportunity closed.
“Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it,” Constand, a former professional basketball player, wrote in her victim impact statement. “He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature, and my trust in myself and others.”
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.