The U.S. Supreme Court gave comedian Bill Cosby a victory this week by declining to take up a case from Pennsylvania prosecutors who were seeking to reverse a state high court decision from last summer that overturned his 2018 sexual assault conviction and resulted in his release on June 30 from the State Correctional Institution Phoenix of Montgomery County.
On Monday, March 7, the highest court in the the country rejected Montgomery County District Attorney’s office’s petition to reverse the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision last June that overturned his conviction. The 84-year-old served close to three years of a three-to-10-year prison sentence, after being convicted of drugging and raping Andrea Constand in 2004 before his conviction was overturned last summer.
Cosby representatives had argued all along that he was victimized by what the state high court called “an unconstitutional coercive bait-and-switch” when the state promised in 2005 not to prosecute the “America’s Dad” if he gave a deposition in a sexual assault civil case against Constand but later used that testimony against him in the 2018 criminal trial.
Cosby was initially accused in 2005 of sexually assaulting Constand, one of his mentees who worked at his Temple University alma mater. Constand brought a civil case that year against the comedian in relation to those accusations he assaulted her at his home. Cosby, after obtaining a verbal assurances from then-Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. that nothing he said in the civil deposition would be used against him in a criminal case, agreed to be candid in the civil deposition about his practices with women he was pursuing.
That suit was resolved with a $3.38 million settlement for Constand in 2006, but Cosby’s admissions in that case’s deposition that he would drug women with quaaludes would play a huge role in his fate years later. In 2015 Montgomery County authorities revisited the Constand case by bringing criminal charges against him that he’d assaulted her in 2004. There were two trials related to the 2015 case. The first trial ended with a hung jury and in the second one he was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault in April 2018.
The new prosecutor, District Attorney Kevin Steel — over the objections of Cosby’s attorneys — got the trial judge to allow the jury to hear Cosby’s deposition testimony from the civil case where he admitted to giving women drugs before having sex with them.
The “Uptown Saturday Night” actor was released in June 2021 after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was persuaded by his appeal lawyers’ argument that the testimony he gave in the civil deposition was not admissible, which meant his conviction was overturned.
Former DA Castor admitted that he had an agreement with Cosby that he would not press charges against him if he spoke candidly during the civil deposition about his dating life. In a 2005 press release, it is noted that Castor did “not intend to expound publicly on the details of his decision for fear that his opinions and analysis might be given undue weight by jurors in any contemplated civil action.”
The state Supreme Court ruled in June 2021 that the actor’s due process rights were violated by the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office during the criminal case four years ago, arguing that a verbal promise from a former DA is a binding agreement.
As reported by The New York Times and other outlets, the Pennsylvania high court ruled 6 to 1 last June that Cosby’s due process was violated by Steele because Cosby believed the former D.A.’s assurance that he wouldn’t be prosecuted if he gave an honest testimony about drug use and sex with women.
Cosby’s publicist Andrew Wyatt spoke on behalf of the family when he celebrated federal high court “for following the rules of law and protecting the Constitutional Rights of ALL American Citizens.”
“This is truly a victory for Mr. Cosby but it shows that cheating will never get you far in life and the corruption that lies within Montgomery County District’s Attorney Office has been brought to the center stage of the world,” he concluded.
Likewise, the legal team of Ms. Constand released a statement on her behalf after the Supreme Court refused to reconsider the case. Constand and her lawyers faulted the panel of justices for believing “there was a valid agreement not to prosecute, which was vigorously disputed in the Habeas proceedings, and determined by the trial judge not to exist.”
Steele’s office put out a release on the ruling, stating, “Obviously there was only a small chance that the High Court would be able to hear the case. We appreciate the Court’s consideration.”
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