(TargetLiberty.org) – Once revered as a national treasure, comedian, actor, and author Bill Cosby had an active career that spanned over six decades. All that changed in the months leading up to his April 26, 2018 conviction by a Pennsylvania jury on three counts of aggravated indecent assault.
Cosby, then 80 years old, faced up to 30 years in prison but received a sentence of 3 to 10 years in September 2018. Judge Steven O’Neill handed down his sentence after an emotional two-day hearing attended by his victim Andrea Constand and other accusers.
The judge directed jailers to take Cosby into custody immediately. Americans watched the frail former comedian being whisked away to jail, his hands in cuffs and his cane dangling from his right hand.
Cosby, formerly known as “America’s Dad,” made history that day as the first celebrity tried and convicted after the rise of the “Me Too” era.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Overturns Cosby’s Conviction
On Wednesday, June 30, the nation received the stunning news that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Cosby’s conviction in an unexpected move. He was released later that day and could be seen flashing the V-for-Victory hand gesture to a helicopter hovering overhead as he made his way from prison to his suburban home outside Philadelphia.
The Basis for the Ruling
Pennsylvania’s highest court ruled that Cosby never should have been arrested. Justice David Wecht, in his writing for the court, stated that a previous agreement between Cosby and a since-retired district attorney not to prosecute him should have been respected by current District Attorney Kevin Steele.
The earlier prosecutor agreed not to use sworn testimony given by Cosby at a civil trial filed by Constand. However, Steele used court transcripts as the basis for later charging Cosby in violation of that agreement.
An AP News report stated that the court called Cosby’s arrest “an affront to fundamental fairness,” particularly in light of the fact it led to prosecution more than a decade after Cosby’s original agreement. According to the Supreme Court, “fair play and decency” required the current district attorney to stand by the terms of the original agreement.
The Supreme Court ruled in Cosby’s favor four to three and barred any future prosecution for that offense.
Cosby’s lawyers argued in their appeal that the lower court committed an error when it allowed trial testimony from five accusers other than Constand.
However, the court declined to rule on that argument, declaring it a moot point since the court already held that Cosby shouldn’t have been arrested in the first place. Had they ruled against the lower court, that could have impacted ongoing and future sexual assault trials.
It’s important to note that the Supreme Court ventured no opinion regarding Cosby’s guilt or innocence. Instead, it tossed the case on a technicality. The fact remains that a jury of his peers heard the evidence and found him guilty as charged.
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