PHILADELPHIA — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction on Wednesday and ordered his release from prison after finding that he was denied protection against self-incrimination.
Cosby was convicted on three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault in 2018 of drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand. He was sentenced to three to ten years in prison. He served just two years of his sentence.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Wednesday District Attorney Kevin Steele, who made the decision to arrest Cosby, obligated to stand by former DA Bruce Castor’s wishes to not charge Cosby, though there was no evidence that agreement was ever put in writing.
The court called Cosby’s arrest “an affront to fundamental fairness, particularly when it results in a criminal prosecution that was forgone for more than a decade.”
Cosby was released on Wednesday afternoon and threw up the V-for-victory sign to a helicopter overhead as the media captured the moment he returned home for the first time in nearly three years.
“This is the justice Mr. Cosby has been fighting for,” Wyatt said in a statement. “They saw the light. He waived his Fifth Amendment right and settled out of court. He was given a deal and he had immunity. He should have never been charged.”
The state Supreme Court said Cosby cannot be retried on the same charges.
“When an unconditional charging decision is made publicly and with the intent to induce action and reliance by the defendant, and when the defendant does so to his detriment (and in some instances upon the advice of counsel), denying the defendant the benefit of that decision is an affront to fundamental fairness,” the court’s ruling stated.
Cosby did not speak to reporters as he entered his home but he called into Philadelphia radio station WDAS-FM to speak out publicly to the fans.
“Because this is not just a Black thing,” Cosby said. “This is for all the people who have been imprisoned wrongfully regardless of race, color, or creed. Because I met them in there. People who talked about what happened and what they did. And I know there are many liars out there.”
The news of Cosby’s release shocked women, particularly because it was the first time a star was charged for sex crimes during the #MeToo movement.
Janice Baker-Kinney, one of the women who accused Cosby, tweeted out her frustration
In a statement, Constand said the decision to release Bill Cosby is “not only disappointing but of concern in that it may discourage those who seek justice for sexual assault in the criminal justice system from reporting or participating in the prosecution of the assailant or may force a victim to choose between filing either a criminal or civil action.”
Lawyer Gloria Allred, who represented 33 of Cosby’s accusers, released a statement shortly after the decision.
My heart especially goes out to those who bravely testified in both of his criminal cases,” she said. “I represented a majority of the prior bad act accusers who testified. Despite the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision, this was an important fight for justice and even though the court overturned the conviction on technical grounds, it did not vindicate Bill Cosby’s conduct and should not be interpreted as a statement or a finding that he did not engage in the acts of which he has been accused.”
Cosby has denied all wrongdoing and has previously stated his contact with Constand was consensual.