The court also barred further charges against him.
On Wednesday, June 30, the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court issued an opinion to vacate and overturn Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction. According to the ruling, Cosby, now 83 years old, will not only be released from prison, but prosecutors will be barred from bringing the charges in a new trial in future. Cosby’s legal team did not immediately respond to Elite Daily’s request for comment on his ruling and release. People all over the internet are absolutely furious, and these tweets about Bill Cosby's release from prison all ask, "how?" Sadly, the answer probably won’t surprise you.
The June 30 ruling is based on the court’s opinion that Cosby was denied his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. The legal conditions of the court’s ruling and Cosby’s release are largely due to an agreement with a previous prosecutor that barred him from all charges in the case — not because of his proven innocence. In 2005, Andrea Constand alleged that Cosby had drugged and assaulted her in 2004. Cosby has maintained the encounter was consensual. At the time, Montgomery County’s District Attorney, Bruce Castor, concluded there was not enough evidence to criminally convict Cosby if he didn’t directly confess to the alleged charges, so he suggested Constand pursue a civil lawsuit instead. Cosby was then subjected to a subpoena for the civil suit, and “did not invoke the Fifth Amendment before he incriminated himself” during his testimony, as he testified under the “reasonable belief” that “the potential exposure to criminal punishment no longer exist[ed].” Constand’s attorneys collected Cosby’s testimonies over four days of depositions, and the civil suit was settled for more than $3 million in 2006, per CNBC.
The testimony he gave under the civil suit was later used to criminally prosecute him in a September 2018 case, where he was sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting Constand. Two years into the sentence, the court ruled that Cosby’s rights had been violated, and the only “remedy that can completely restore Cosby to the status quo ante [is for him to be] discharged, and any future prosecution on these particular charges must be barred.”
“This is the justice Mr. Cosby has been fighting for. They saw the light,” said Cosby’s spokesperson Andrew Wyatt said following the ruling, per NBC News. “He was given a deal and he had immunity. He should have never been charged.”
People all over Twitter are furious over Cosby’s release over this legal technicality, and aren’t being quiet about their anger with America’s justice system.
Also at question was the testimony of five other women who alleged they had been assaulted by Cosby, whose testimony was used by prosecutors to show an alleged pattern of behavior. Cosby has maintained that all his sexual encounters were consensual, and representatives for Cosby did not immediately respond to Elite Daily’s request for comment on the additional allegations. Originally, only a single additional witness was permitted to testify in Cosby’s 2018 case. However, after the jury was deadlocked in their decision, the court permitted five additional witnesses to testify. The Pennsylvania court ruled these testimonies violated Cosby's rights but did not officially rule on the subject, since the conviction was already overturned on the issue of the non-prosecution agreement.
As of June 30, 60 women have come forward with allegations of sexual assault against Cosby, with two being as young as 15 years old at the time of the alleged assault. However, it’s unclear whether or not any of these women will ever get their day in court.