Bill Cosby has been released from prison after the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court overturned his sexual assault conviction on June 30. This comes three years after the disgraced comedian was found guilty of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand, and sentenced to three to 10 years at a state prison just outside Philadelphia.
The court came to its decision after Bill’s defense challenged the conviction on two fronts. First, they opposed the trial judge’s decision to allow five other accusers to testify their respective accounts when the jury was deadlocked. The defense also alleged the prosecution had previously promised Bill they would not charge him after doubting the “likelihood of a successful prosecution.” This agreement made it so that Bill incriminated himself in a subsequent civil lawsuit. That testimony would go on to be presented during the criminal trial.
“It would be antithetical to, and corrosive of, the integrity and functionality of the criminal justice system that we strive to maintain,” the opinion stated. “For these reasons, Cosby’s convictions and judgment of sentence are vacated, and he is discharged.”
Despite the wave of assault accusations publicly lobbed at Bill in 2015, the statute of limitations ran out for many alleged victims. In fact, prosecutors had mere days to arrest Bill in the Andrea case before the 12-year statute expired. Andrea accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her in 2004 when she was a basketball coach at Temple University, where Bill had been an involved alumnus. Bill’s conviction coincided with the rise of the #MeToo movement, which saw many high-profile public figures exposed for harassment and abuse.
It’s currently not known if the prosecution will appeal the decision or try Bill again. “This is really a sad statement about a woman’s value, a woman’s worth – what is happening right now, and we need to do something about this,” Victoria Valentino, one of Bill’s accusers, told CNN of the overturned conviction. “I just don’t know what. I’m so stunned. My stomach is in knots.”
Bill has since broken his silence with a statement on Twitter. “I have never changed my stance nor my story. I have always maintained my innocence,” he tweeted. “Thank you to all my fans, supporters and friends who stood by me through this ordeal. Special thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for upholding the rule of law.”