Having failed on almost a dozen occasions to have the matter reopened or re-litigated, this limited review does present the officially designated sexually violent predator once known as America’s Dad with the best opportunity to be free since he was sentenced in September 2018 to up to a decade behind bars. While no date has been set due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the appeal could also put the Montgomery County D.A.’s office and Cosby trial(s) Judge Steven O’Neill under the legal microscope.
More from Deadline
- Bill Cosby Not Getting Early Prison Release Over Coronavirus Crisis; Violent Offenders 'Not Eligible'
- Harvey Weinstein's Lawyer Pledges To Fight Underage Rape Lawsuit; Disney Says "No Legal Basis" To Be Included In Suit - Update
- Never All That Close, New York And Los Angeles Are Further Separated By The Virus
Specifically, the appeal will look at two potentially mitigating aspects of the case, which had initially resulted in a mistrial due to a hung jury. Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court will hear whether Cosby should have actually ever been charged in late 2015 for the sexual assault of the former Temple University employee because his then attorneys struck a secret deal with a previous D.A. to avoid criminal prosecution if the Cosby Show creator testified in a civil action – which he did, and which resulted in a settlement with Constand.
In addition, further seeking to undermine the validity of the conviction, Cosby’s latest defense team will seek to convince the court that O’Neill was out of bounds allowing current Montgomery County DA Kevin Steele to have five other accusers, including ex-America’s Next Top Model judge Janice Dickinson, take the stand and tell their stories of being assaulted by the actor. In that vein, the defense wants to have O’Neill’s decision tossed that allowed evidence to be presented to the jury that Cosby gave drugs like Quaaludes to women over the years.
If successful in the appeal, Cosby would undoubtedly be let out from his current home at Pennsylvania’s State Correctional Institution at Phoenix. Although it’s a long shot at this point.
Nonetheless, reps for Cosby were again connecting the 82-year-old actor’s case to larger societal issues of racism and criminal justice reform in a statement put out soon after the Keystone State’s top court made the decision to hear the long-sought appeal:
We’re extremely thankful to the State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania for agreeing to review Mr. Cosby’s appeal. America and the world is witnessing the 23rd day of protests regarding the abuse and murder of Black people, not just at the hands of corrupt police officers; but these extremely vital and important protests are exposing the corruption that lies within the criminal justice system (District Attorneys & Judges). As we have all stated, the false conviction of Bill Cosby is so much bigger than him — it’s about the destruction of ALL Black people and people of color in America. We’re extremely thankful to our attorneys (Brain Perry, Jennifer Bonjean & Barbara Zemlock) for their tenacious efforts in fighting for the vindication of Mr. Cosby.
Previously coming up short in attempts across various state jurisdictions to have the judge in the trials dismissed, the judgment reversed and to get out of prison, Cosby has taken to portraying himself as a de facto political prisoner and the victim of a “set-up.” When the now-incarcerated Harvey Weinstein was found guilty in late February on multiple sex crime charges, Cosby spokesperson Andrew Wyatt put out a statement saying it was a “sad day in the American judicial system … that should haunt all Americans, especially wealthy and famous men.”
Even though Cosby actually admitted in 2005 depositions to giving Constand several Benadryl pills on the night of the alleged assault in his Philadelphia-area mansion in 2004, the actor has insisted through various investigations, two trials and the sentencing hearing that the encounter was consensual.
In addition, more than 60 women have claimed that Cosby drugged and assaulted them over the decades with a similar combo of pills and alcohol. Unlike many of those women, some of whom were among the onlookers at the two trials and the sentencing hearing in the fall of 2018, Cosby paid Constand millions in a once-confidential settlement about 10 years before the criminal case was opened.
A fact that in no small part is being used as a wedge to overturn his damning conviction and long prison stint.
Best of Deadline
- Coronavirus: Global Cases Pass 8 Million As Death Toll Nears 450,000; U.S. Deaths At 116,000 - Update
- Coronavirus: Movies That Have Halted Or Delayed Production Amid Outbreak
- Hong Kong Filmart Postponed Due To Coronavirus Fears; Event Moves Two Weeks Before Toronto