Here’s What the Hell Is Happening With Bill Cosby’s Sexual Assault Conviction and Prison Release

·2 min read
Here’s What the Hell Is Happening With Bill Cosby’s Sexual Assault Conviction and Prison Release

In a stunning turn of events, Bill Cosby is set to be released from jail after Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the ruling that found him guilty of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand back in 2004. The initial ruling was a victory for Constand as well as the 60 actresses, models, and acquaintances of Cosby who accused him of sexual assault and rape over the past few decades, but this is now being recalled.

Photo credit: Mark Makela - Getty Images
Photo credit: Mark Makela - Getty Images

Wait...how the hell did this happen?

Former defense attorney Bruce Castor (aka one of Donald Trump’s impeachment attorneys), apparently promised Cosby in a written deal that he wouldn’t be prosecuted for the sexual assault of Andrea Constand. Under the deal, Cosby was asked to testify in a civil lawsuit filed by Constand in exchange for avoiding prosecution. After coming to this deal, Cosby agreed to waive his Fifth Amendment rights (aka his refusal to testify in court for the entirety of his trial).

On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided this deal should’ve prevented Cosby from being charged in the Constand case in the first place, which means the courts can’t continue to uphold the rest of Cosby’s 10-year prison sentence.

What exactly did the Pennsylvania Supreme Court say?

The divided court ruled that Cosby was denied a fair trial because of the agreement with the previous prosecutor. Here’s how the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s official documentation on Cosby's release puts it:

“We hold that, when a prosecutor makes an unconditional promise of non-prosecution, and when the defendant relies upon that guarantee to the detriment of his constitutional right to not testify, the principle of fundamental fairness that undergird due process of law in our criminal justice systems demands that the promise be enforced.

“Considered together, these authorities obligate courts to hold prosecutors to their word, to enforce promised, to ensure that defendants; decisions are made with a full understanding of the circumstances, and to prevent fraudulent inducements of waivers or one or more constitutional rights. Prosecutors can be bound by their assurances or decisions that inform and undergird the due process of law. The law is clear that, based upon their unique role in the criminal justice system, prosecutors are generally bound by their assurances, particularly when defendants rely to their detriment upon those guarantees.”

After being convicted initially, Cosby refused to offer any words to Andrea Constand and instead vowed to serve all 10 years of his prison sentence. He only ended up serving two before his conviction was overturned.

Is Cosby still in jail? When will he be released?

Because of the court’s decision, Cosby could be released as soon as today.

“Work is underway to complete the necessary paperwork,” Pennsylvania Department of Corrections staffer Maria Bivens told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Mr. Cosby will be released as soon as practical.”

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