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Supreme Court Won’t Review Decision to Free Bill Cosby From Prison

Pennsylvania’s high court had overturned comedian’s sexual assault conviction last year

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a case of sexual assault against Bill Cosby, leaving in place a decision by Pennsylvania’s highest court to throw out his conviction and set him free.

The 83-year-old comedian was released last June after he served three years of a three-to 10-year state prison sentence over a felony sexual assault charge from 2018. In overturning the conviction, the state’s Supreme Court ruled that Cosby cannot be retried and that the prosecutor who brought the case was bound by an agreement from his predecessor to not bring charges.

The court’s decision was included in a long list of pending cases that were denied. As is common for the Supreme Court, no reason was given for the rejection.

In a statement Monday, Cosby’s representative Andrew Wyatt offered their “sincere gratitude” to the Supreme Court “for following the rules of law and protecting the Constitutional Rights of ALL American Citizens” and said that the prior conviction by the Pennsylvania district attorney was a “reprehensible bait and switch.”

“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,” Wyatt said on behalf of Cosby.

While a Pennsylvania appeals court previously upheld Cosby’s conviction, rejecting his legal team’s argument that he wasn’t given a fair trial, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that District Attorney Kevin Steele, who arrested Cosby in 2015, was obligated to stand by his predecessor’s promise not to charge Cosby with any crimes when the comedian agreed to give potentially incriminating testimony in Constand’s civil case.

The court at the time called Cosby’s arrest and later conviction “an affront to fundamental fairness, particularly when it results in a criminal prosecution that was forgone for more than a decade” and argued that “fair play and decency” required the DA to honor his predecessor’s agreement.

Cosby has long maintained his innocence against accusations of sexual assault.

Cosby, once considered “America’s Dad,” was one of the first and highest profile #MeToo cases of the last few years, and his conviction represented a sea change in how the culture approaches issues of sexual violence.

Bill Cosby was convicted in 2018 of drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. (A previous 2017 trial — which notably did not allow the testimony of five “prior acts” witnesses who testified that they were drugged and sexually assaulted in ways similar to what Constand recounted — ended in a hung jury.)

Though the case involves just one woman, at least 60 women have come forward to accuse the former entertainer of sexual assault.

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