Bill Cosby's conviction for sexual assault has been overturned: the actor is free
Sylvie Claire / July 1, 2021
The American actor Bill Cosby was released on Wednesday a little before 20H30 (Belgian time), only a few hours after the cancellation of his conviction for sexual assault by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections of the state told AFP. Aged 83, the creator of the series The Cosby Show had been detained since he was sentenced to a minimum of three years in prison in September 2018 for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004.
Bill Cosby's convictions and sentences are reversed and he is to be released, the state's high court wrote at the end of a lengthy 79-page ruling.
In its decision, the Supreme Court noted that the first prosecutor in charge of the case decided not to prosecute him, but encouraged him to testify in a civil suit brought by the plaintiff. However, that testimony was later used against him at his trial, when a new prosecutor decided to reopen the case years later, the judges noted. When a prosecutor makes a public decision with the intention of influencing the actions of the accused and the accused does so to his detriment (and sometimes on the advice of his lawyer), to deny him the benefit of that decision is an affront to the fundamental principle of fairness, they said.
Bill Cosby's conviction was considered the first of the #MeToo era and a victory in the fight against sexual violence against women. Considered the epitome of the ideal father in his TV show, the actor, one of the first African-Americans to break through on the small screen, was accused by some 60 women of sexual assault and sometimes rape, covered by the statute of limitations.