So, it looks like Bill Cosby — formerly convicted sexual assaulter — will soon be free to roam the earth as he pleases once again. Awesome. Once you've gone through those familiar first stages of nausea, blinding rage, and nihilistic resignation, you may be wondering how, exactly, this actually happened.
The short version is that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined that the 83-year-old Cosby (again, world famous, wealthy, once-beloved cultural figure) did not get a fair trial when he was convicted in 2018. Cosby, you may remember, has been accused of sexual assault by 60 women, and has admitted under oath to drugging women with quaaludes in order to have sex with them.
So here is how the Pennsylvania court got here.
Trump’s impeachment lawyer is involved:
When Cosby was first investigated for sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2005, the district attorney at the time, Bruce Castor Jr., had assured Cosby that he would not be charged in the case, according to New York Times reporting. Yes, the same Bruce Castor Jr. who completely embarrassed himself when defending Trump in the impeachment hearings.
According to the document, D.A. Castor didn't feel they had enough evidence to charge Cosby with the sexual assault. So, to get "some measure of justice" (his words, not ours), he told Cosby the D.A.'s office wouldn't charge him, but he would be forced to testify in a subsequent civil suit brought by Constand.
This is when Cosby admitted to, in the Times language, "giving quaaludes to women he was pursuing for sex." Drugging women to the point where they are no longer able to consent to sex is technically rape, but sure, whatever.
Keeping up so far?
A refresher on the 2015 case:
In 2015, the new district attorney's office reopened the case and charged Cosby again. But they decided that yeah, actually, that testimony Cosby gave earlier confessing to drugging and sexually assaulting women in the past — though not to Constand's specific allegations — was kind of relevant! The testimony was used to establish a pattern of abusive behavior.
When that trial ended in 2018, officially in a post-#MeToo era, Cosby was convicted of three counts of aggravated indecent assault against Constand. He was sentenced to three to seven years in prison.
In 2019, Cosby lost his appeal to have the sexual assault charge lifted, and it looked like he really was going to have to stay in prison to rot. Because it was highly unlikely he'd get the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to take up the case and side with him! Right! Right? No.
What happened today:
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court did take up Cosby's case. And in a 79-page opinion, determined that Cosby did not receive a fair trial and so overturned his conviction and ordered him to be immediately released from prison.
The reason Cosby's trial was not fair, they opined, was because the 2015 trial used testimony that Cosby only gave because he thought it couldn't be used against him. Because that's what Bruce "Rambling Incoherence" Castor Jr. told him!
"The fruits of Cosby's reliance upon D.A. Castor's decision — Cosby's sworn inculpatory testimony — were then used by D.A. Castor's successors against Cosby at Cosby's criminal trial," the opinion stated. "Cosby's convictions and judgment of sentence are vacated and he is discharged."
Which is how we find ourselves here.
Cosby’s other accusers are speaking out:
It should be noted that of the 60 women who have come forward and publicly accused Cosby of sexually assaulting them, only one received justice in court. And the statute of limitations, 12 years, has run out on every single other case.
Cosby's conviction being overturned is a wrenching, painful blow and cruel irony to every person who has ever been sexually assaulted. But especially for the brave women who came forward with their stories, who now know that their assailant will never be punished. Some of Cosby's accusers have already spoken up in response to the news. One accuser, Sammy Mays, called the release "disrespectful and despicable," in a statement to TMZ. Another, Angela Leslie, told the outlet, "I'm surprised and shocked with today's news of Cosby's release. It seems the justice system served the criminal, in this case, as opposed to the victims."
Bill Cosby has just gotten away with decades of rape. No matter who we blame — the system, the Supreme Court, Bruce Castor Jr. — a guilty man is free.
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