Cosby Conviction Overturned

June 30, 2021

Cosby’s convictions and judgment of sentence are vacated, and he is discharged.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturning the conviction of 83-year-old comedian Bill Cosby once known as “America’s Dad.”
  • In 2018, Bill Cosby was convicted of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand in 2004.
    • In 2017, a trial against Cosby on the same charges ended in a mistrial.
    • Constand was one of over 60 women who came forward with allegations that Cosby raped, drugged, sexually assaulted, or violated them in some way – or attempted to do so. Cosby has denied the allegations against him, though admits to engaging in several consensual sexual encounters.
  • In 2005, after the then-District Attorney determined there was "insufficient credible and admissible evidence" to charge Cosby, he "decided that a civil lawsuit for money damages was her best option," as noted in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's ruling.
    • Constand sued Cosby. She later agreed to settle that suit for $3.38 million.
    • However, as noted in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's ruling, during the course of discovery for the suit, Cosby made several "several incriminating statements" with the understanding that he would not be charged. Some of Cosby's own words made their way into the 2018 criminal case against him.
  • On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court – the highest court in the state – ruled that Cosby should have never been charged in the first place because the then-District Attorney who charged him in 2017 was legally bound to honor an unwritten agreement made by his predecessor in 2005. Accordingly, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found the decision to prosecute violated Cosby’s rights.
    • Cosby was released from of a maximum-security prison on Wednesday after serving less than three years of his 3-10-year sentence. He cannot be retried on the charges.
    • The Pennsylvania District Attorney could attempt to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but it is extremely unlikely that the court would take up the case because the legal issues are largely based on state law – not federal or constitutional law matters.

FYI: The then-District Attorney who made the unwritten agreement with Cosby in 2005 was one of the attorneys who represented former President Trump in his 2021 impeachment case.

by Jenna Lee,