Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned Bill Cosby‘s sexual assault conviction today, releasing him from prison after finding an agreement with a previous prosecutor that prevented him from being charged in the case.
Cosby, 83, has served over two years of his three to 10 year sentence at a state prison near Philadelphia. He had vowed to serve all 10 years rather than acknowledge remorse over his 2004 encounter with Andrea Constand, who accused him of drugging and assaulting her.
The comedian, famous for The Cosby Show, was convicted of drugging and molesting the Temple University employee at his suburban estate.
He was charged back in 2015 when a prosecutor with new evidence arrested him days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired.
The trial judge had allowed just one other accuser to testify at Cosby’s first trial, when the jury deadlocked. He then, however, allowed five other accusers to testify at the retrial about their experiences with Cosby’s assault in the 1980s. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is now saying that testimony tainted the trial, even though a lower appeals court found it appropriate to show a signature pattern of drugging and molesting women.
More than 60 women have come forward in the past few years with accounts of Cosby drugging and assaulting them, but Pennsylvania’s action was the only criminal case in the country due to the state’s longer-than-usual statute of limitations for sex crimes. Constand and several other alleged victims were in the courtroom watching as Cosby was found guilty.
The ruling said that Cosby was a sexually violent predator, meaning he had to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and check in with state police monthly. During his prison time, Cosby was also required to attend counseling.
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