PENNSYLVANIA — The U.S. Supreme Court will not bring back criminal charges against Bill Cosby, after his previous conviction for sexual assault was overthrown. The comedian, who spent years in prison, had been released in 2021.
The ruling was issued without a note, and upholds the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s 4-3 ruling to release Cosby last year.
Prosecutors had appealed to the nation’s high court last November, citing the long-term detrimental impact they believed the decision will have on the justice system and the prosecution of similar crimes in the long run.
“Petitioning to ask the High Court for review was the right thing to do because of the precedent set in this case by the majority opinion of Pennsylvania Supreme Court that prosecutors’ statements in press releases now seemingly create immunity,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said in a statement at the time. “This decision as it stands will have far-reaching negative consequences beyond Montgomery County and Pennsylvania. The U.S. Supreme Court can right what we believe is a grievous wrong.”
The original case against Cosby was overturned because the state believed he could not be charged due to an immunity agreement he had in place with Bruce Castor, then the Montgomery County District Attorney (and more recently, the impeachment defense lawyer for President Donald Trump).That agreement, oft-cited during the years leading up to Cosby’s trial and eventual conviction, included damning testimony in which Cosby admitted he gave quaaludes to women.
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In their majority opinion at the time, the state Supreme Court acknowledged the “strong interest” of society in holding the powerful to account, while explaining why they thought Cosby must be released.
“It is also true that no such interest, however important, ever can eclipse society’s interest in ensuring that the constitutional rights of the people are vindicated,” the opinion read. “Society’s interest in prosecution does not displace the remedy due to constitutionally aggrieved persons.”
The former comedian, now 84, was convicted of aggravated indecent assault of Andrea Constand, a Temple University employee, inside his Cheltenham home in 2004.
He was originally sentenced in 2018 to three to 10 years behind bars, and he spent a little less than three years in Montgomery County’s SCI Phoenix before his sentence was vacated in June.
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