Bill Cosby was released Wednesday after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated his sentence, according to the Pennsylvania prison system.
Speaking outside his home in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, shortly after his release, his attorney Jennifer Bonjean said they were “thrilled to have Mr. Cosby home”.
She added that Cosby, who remained silent, should never have been prosecuted.
“They pulled the rug out from under him because of politics, because of popular opinon,” she said.
Earlier Wednesday, the court found the 83-year-old had an agreement with a previous prosecutor that prevented him from being charged in the case. He had been incarcerated for two years after being sentenced to serve between three and 10 years in a state prison near Philadelphia.
“Cosby’s convictions and judgment of sentence are vacated, and he is discharged,” the ruling read.
He had been accused of and tried for sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, who said that the encounter took place in 2004.
Dad,” was charged in late 2015 for sexual assault after a prosecutor, who had newly unsealed evidence, arrested him only days before the statute of limitations was set to expire.
The new testimony, which came from five other accusers and dated back to experiences with him in the 1980s, was allowed during his retrial, which the state Supreme Court ruled tainted the trial.
BREAKING: Bill Cosby is asked how it feels to be home following release from prison earlier today.
— ABC News (@ABC) June 30, 2021
After Constand made the initial accusation, then-Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor believed that it would be too difficult to convict him and instead allowed her to sue him in a civil action because he could be forced to testify, under penalty of perjury, without the benefit of being allowed to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
He provided four sworn depositions in which he “made several incriminating statements,” but he did so after Castor had said he would not be prosecuted criminally. His successor in the district attorney’s office “did not feel bound by his decision, and decided to prosecute Cosby notwithstanding that prior undertaking” and used the sworn inculpatory evidence at the criminal trial.
The court ruled that the “only remedy that comports with society’s reasonable expectations of its elected prosecutors and our criminal justice system” is to vacate the sentence given the prior deal between Castor and Cosby. The ruling also read: “Under these circumstances, neither our principles of justice, nor society’s expectations, nor our sense of fair play and decency, can tolerate anything short of compelling the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office to stand by the decision of its former elected head.”
In September 2015, when Castor found out that then-District Attorney Rita Ferman had decided to reopen the case, he sent her a letter noting that he essentially made a “promise not to prosecute” Cosby in order to get him to testify, according to the ruling.
He said to her: “I can see no possibility that Cosby’s deposition could be used in a state criminal case, because I would have to testify as to what happened, and the deposition would be subject to suppression.”
Cosby and Constand ultimately settled the civil suit for $3.38 million.
The prosecutors did not immediately state whether they plan to pursue an appeal or look to try him for a third time.
Cosby was one of the first powerful men to be accused, tried, and convicted in the #MeToo era.
A spokesperson for Ferman, who is now a judge in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, directed the Washington Examiner to the district attorney’s office.
Phylicia Rashad, who played Claire Huxtable, Cosby’s wife in The Cosby Show, celebrated the ruling on social media, saying, “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”
Author: Mike Brest
Source: Washington Examiner: Bill Cosby released from prison after sexual assault conviction vacated by Pennsylvania Supreme Court