Shameful comedian Bill Cosby walked free This week after three years in prison when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his position 2018 convictions Charged with drugging and sexual assault Andrea Konstand In 2004, when she was an employee of Temple University.
The sudden reversal of the first high-profile sexual assault conviction after the #MeToo movement has drawn particular attention, raising questions such as whether Mr Cosby still faces prosecution over any of the sexual assault and misconduct charges against more than 50 women. against him.
Here is a dissection of legal issues.
Why did the court overturn the conviction?
The majority of the court ruled because prosecutors had violated Mr. Cosby’s rights by reneging on a clear promise not to indict him.
In 2005, Bruce L. Castor Jr., then the attorney general for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia, issued a press release saying that he declined to indict Mr. Cosby over the matter. Mr. Cosby then sat down for filings in a separate lawsuit brought by Ms. Constand against him, paying her $3.38 million to settle it in 2006.
But a later district attorney overturned Mr. Castor’s decision and accused the artist of assaulting Ms. Constand after all. At trial, prosecutors used what Cosby had said in the affidavit – his admission that in past decades, he had made lookalikes to women in an attempt to have sex with them – as evidence against him.
“We believe that when a prosecutor makes an unconditional promise not to prosecute, and when a defendant relies on that guarantee at the expense of his or her constitutional right not to testify, the fundamental principle of fairness that underpins due process in our criminality requires a system of Justice fulfilled the promise.”
Why did Mr. Castor say he would not charge Mr. Cosby?
Mr. Castor – Who Was This Year A defense attorney in the second impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump Before the Senate – he said he had announced in 2005 that Mr. Cosby would not be indicted in an effort to prevent him from invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, so he would have to testify in Mrs. Constand’s upcoming civil case.
In 2016, when Cosby’s defense team was trying to drop criminal charges, they took an unusual step Calling Mr. Castor as a witness At a pre-trial hearing. He testified that he believed Mrs. Konstand but did not believe that the evidence was sufficient to prove her accusations beyond a reasonable doubt. He defended his decision as a means of aiding the lawsuit.
“I have decided that we will not sue Mr Cosby, and that will set a chain of events that will bring some justice to Andrea Constand,” Mr Castor said.
Has Mr. Castor made a binding promise?
Yes, the majority of the Supreme Court said.
There was no formal written agreement not to prosecute – only the brief press release – and Ms Constand and her lawyers said they were not told of any promise or deal.
Against this background, a legal dispute arose over whether Mr. Castor had actually made a binding promise that Mr. Cosby would never be indicted – and if he did, whether he had the authority to do so. Mr Castor asserted that he had made such a pledge, but the trial judge disagreed and ruled that the criminal case brought by the new public prosecutor could be pursued. But the majority of the Supreme Court supported Mr. Castor’s explanation of what he had done.
While that doesn’t necessarily mean immunizing Cosby from prosecution was the right thing to do, Castor said in a phone interview on Wednesday that he believed the 2005 prosecutors’ decision had been “acquitted” by the Supreme Court. resolution. He said the ruling was a “bombing” of the current attorney general’s office.
“I’m back in 2005, and I’m right in 2021,” said Mr. Castor. “I am proud of our Supreme Court for having the courage to make an unpopular decision.”
Does the verdict mean that Mr. Cosby did not commit a crime against Ms. Constand?
No, it just means he can’t be sued for it.
Judge Wicht acknowledged that the court’s decision to bar prosecution on those particular charges was “acute and rare,” but said it was necessary. Although society has a strong interest in prosecuting crimes, he wrote, it has a greater interest “in ensuring that the constitutional rights of the people are protected.”
Will Mr. Cosby face a new trial?
Not for assaulting Mrs. Konstand. “He should be relieved of office, and any future trial on these special charges should be prevented,” said Judge Wicht’s majority opinion – of four of the seven judges.
(Two other judges agreed That the conviction should be discarded because “due process does not allow the government to engage in this kind of forced bait and switch.” One said he would have allowed a retrial that did not use evidence from Mr. Cosby’s testimony. Seventh Justice disagree with the majority but noted that if it was not up for debate, he would be inclined to order a new trial for other reasons).
This immunity from prosecution applies only to the specific charges that Mr. Cosby drugged and assaulted Ms. Consand. Other women across the country have also come forward to accuse the artist of similarly assaulting them in past years. But those accusations included confrontations that long ago prevented him from being accused by statutes of limitations.
Can the prosecution appeal the ruling?
Yeah. They can ask the US Supreme Court to review the constitutional analysis of the Pennsylvania judges.
Will this ruling affect other #MeToo cases?
not directly. But in a statement, Ms Constand and her lawyers said the decision was not only disappointing, but also expressed concerns “that it may discourage those seeking justice for sexual assault in the criminal justice system from reporting or participating in the prosecution of the abuser or may force the victim to over the choice between filing a criminal or civil case.”
Julia Jacobs Contribute to the preparation of reports.