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Bill Cosby Released from Prison After Pennsylvania Supreme Court Found Prosecutor Violated Previous Agreement; Phylicia Rashad Reacts

Bill Cosby and his team will be rejoicing today after his 2018 sexual assault conviction was overturned on Wednesday, June 30. 

After completing nearly three years of the three-to-10-year sentence, Cosby was released on Wednesday after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated the conviction and ruled that he cannot be retried on the charges. The court found that an agreement the entertainer had with a previous prosecutor that was supposed to prevent him from being criminally charged should have been upheld by a subsequent district attorney. 

Phylicia Rashad shows support to Bill Cosby after his prison sentence is overturned (Photo: @phyliciarashad/Instagram)

Cosby’s TV wife Phylicia Rashad took to Instagram to celebrate her co-star’s victory. Sharing a photo of Cosby, she wrote, “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted – a miscarriage of justice is corrected.” 

Her celebration received mixed reactions. One person said, “Damn, now I gotta go and block Claire Huxtable. Well it was a good run while it lasted.” 

Someone else said, “That Tweet from @PhyliciaRashad is toxic rape enabling at an institutional level. I shudder for the safety of all of the women (and all students, frankly) at @HowardU if this is the public position being taken by an HU dean regarding a man with 50-plus KNOWN victims. Disgraceful.” 

Others were not so quick to jump on the cancel train, “I’m not cancelling Claire Huxtable Sorry not sorry.”

“idc idc idc Claire Huxtable is good with me,” said another. 

A Recap of the Case: 

The 83-year-old was initially accused of drugging and molestation in 2005 by Andrea Constand, a former director of operations for Temple University’s women’s basketball team. After their initial meeting in 2002, Constand and Cosby continued to keep in contact with each other for the next 14 months. Constand claimed that in January 2004 Cosby invited her to his Pennsylvania home to discuss “situations dealing with her life, growth, education, access and thoughts,” as he later said in a deposition, and once there she took three pills he offered her and then used her subsequent incapacitation to take advantage of her.

When former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr., declined to charge Cosby in the case after his office was contacted a year later about the assault allegation, Constand followed up by suing Cosby. Castor helped facilitate the suit by agreeing not to prosecute Cosby, which freed the comedian to make certain statements in a September 2005 deposition that could be judged as incriminatory, statements that later would be used against Cosby in his criminal case. The civil case was settled, and for nearly a decade that was the end of the matter.

By 2015 things would change.

While handling “The Cosby Show” star’s case, Castor promised Cosby and his lawyers that he would not criminally charge Cosby if he took part in the deposition for Constand’s civil case. However, between the years 2014-2015 Cosby was the target of dozens of public accusations from women accusing him of sexual assault. At least 60 women have lodged such allegations, and it began to emerge that police reports had been filed against Cosby as early as 2000. 

Castor, who is a Republican, lost his re-election race for Montgomery County district attorney to Democrat Kevin Steele in November 2015, and in his new position, Steele decided to prosecute Cosby for the Constand allegations despite Castor’s non-prosecution agreement. Cosby’s criminal trial in 2017 resulted in a hung jury. The second trial took place in 2018, and Montgomery County Judge Steve O’Neill allowed five other women (one being supermodel Janice Dickenson) to take the stand against Cosby, and each accused him of sexual assault. 

After deliberating for a total of 14 hours in the span of two days, Cosby received a guilty verdict in April 2015 and that September was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison. He’s tried overturning his conviction before, and last December the Pennsylvania Supreme Court took up his case. 

Steele, whose decision that his office could not be bound by an agreement made by his predecessor was rebuked by the state Supreme Court, issued a statement about the ruling on Wednesday. “He was found guilty by a jury and now goes free on a procedural issue that is irrelevant to the facts of the crime,” Steele said. “My hope is that this decision will not dampen the reporting of sexual assaults by victims.” 

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