Bill Cosby walked out of a Pennsylvania prison on June 30 after serving close to three years behind bars after the state’s highest court overturned his conviction of sexually assaulting a woman.
Convicted in 2018, his case counts as one of the most high-profile trials in modern history equating that of another Black celebrity, O.J. Simpson.
And while he left a state prison in Collegeville, Pa. quietly and without cameras, reporters, supporters or accusers, his exit stood in stark contrast to the tumult that accompanied his trial and conviction.
However, his sudden and perhaps unexpected release caused shock and dismay among the dozens of women who have accused him of assault over the past two decades.
Cosby, 83, has maintained that he did not commit any wrongdoings from the beginning.
“I have never changed my stance nor my story. I have always maintained my innocence,” he tweeted Wednesday night. “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 role of law.”
The high court ruled a prosecutor’s decision in 2005 in which he said he would not pursue a criminal case against the comedian led Cosby to make self-incriminating statements during his civil trial – which another prosecutor used to convict him.
Justice David Wecht wrote that action violated Cosby’s Fifth Amendment rights. Wecht further said that the current district attorney for Montgomery County, Pa., was obligated to stand by Bruce Castor’s promise (his predecessor) not to charge Cosby.
Cosby’s trial began in April 2018 when nearly 60 women had accused him of drugging them and then sexually assaulting them. It would bring shame and disgrace on the highly-popular entertainer who serves as one of the first Blacks to garner popularity on a massive scale.
Cosby would be convicted, primarily based on the testimony of one woman, Andrea Constand, who said he assaulted her at his home in Cheltenham, Pa. Cosby was convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He began serving his sentence of three to 10 years in September 2018.
A lower appeals court upheld the conviction in 2019, but his team then appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
On Wednesday, Phylicia Rashad, the actress who played Cosby’s wife on The Cosby Show, wrote on twitter, “Finally! A terrible wrong is being righted – a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”
But while Cosby, his family and those who have stood behind him in support may have cause to celebrate, the fact remains that he has lost nearly three years of his life.
Additionally, dozens of women who maintain that he violated them still have the option of seeking justice through civil suits. Those cases may end in their benefit as civil suits require a lesser standard of proof than criminal cases.
How he lives the remainder of his life, now that he is no longer in prison, remains to be seen.
Some say he will forever live under a cloud of shame while others say his release proves that the system does work, certainly in his favor, as due process remains the right of every defendant.
However, what cannot be said is that his release implies that Cosby has been vindicated.
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