Supreme Court asked to overturn ruling that freed Bill Cosby
Prosecutors have urged the US Supreme Court to review a decision that overturned the sexual assault conviction of comedian and actor Bill Cosby, arguing that the ruling was based on a questionable non-prosecution deal.
A petition filed on Monday by Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele asked the court to take another look at the ruling that freed Cosby in June, the Associated Press reported. While a judge had accepted that Cosby was immune from prosecution under a deal made in exchange for testimony in a previous civil suit, Steele questioned the legitimacy of the deal and insisted that Cosby was eligible to be charged after all.
The only evidence of the supposed non-prosecution deal is a 2005 press release from the then-Montgomery County DA, Bruce Castor, who noted that he did not have sufficient evidence to charge Cosby at the time. However, Castor created some ambiguity with the statement, as he added that his office would “reconsider this decision should the need arise,” a passage that’s been disputed for years by lawyers on both sides.
While the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ultimately agreed that Cosby was immune from prosecution and should have never been tried, Steele insisted that Castor’s press release should not be treated as an immunity agreement, and would set a worrying precedent if it were accepted as such.
“This decision as it stands will have far-reaching negative consequences beyond Montgomery County and Pennsylvania. The US Supreme Court can right what we believe is a grievous wrong,” Steele said.
The DA’s attempt to revive the case will likely face an uphill battle, as the Supreme Court accepts fewer than 1% of all petitions filed, according to AP.
Cosby, now 84, was among the first celebrities convicted of a sex crime during the ‘#MeToo’ campaign, which saw a number of big names in Hollywood accused of sexual assault or misconduct, some later charged. Though he continues to deny all wrongdoing, he was found guilty of drugging and molesting a college sports administrator, Andrea Constand, in 2018, before being freed last June, at which point he had served nearly three years of a 10-year sentence. Cosby’s legal problems did not end there, however, as he was sued by another sexual assault accuser just months after his release from prison, a case that is still ongoing.