Prosecutor Forced to Keep Government’s Promises
On Wednesday, June 30, 2021, the disgraced actor and comedian Bill Cosby was released after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the indecent assault conviction. Bill Cosby walked free after three years in prison after being convicted of sexually assaulting and drugging Andrea Constand in 2004.
The reversal of this high-profile sexual assault conviction has attracted great interest and raised many questions. One question is – could Cosby still face prosecution over any of the accusations of sexual assault and misconduct that more than 50 women have leveled against him?
Why Was the Conviction Overturned?
Bill Cosby was convicted of aggravated indecent assault in 2018 of drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004. He was serving a 3 to 10-year sentence. At the time of his release, he had served nearly three years of assault sentence. However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the conviction and ordered Cosby’s immediate release from prison because he was denied due process protection against self-incrimination.
In 2005, a previous prosecutor, Bruce L. Castor Jr., issued a news release saying that he won’t charge Cosby for the assault. After this news release, Cosby relied on that decision to testify in a civil case and therein presented incriminating statements.
The prosecutor’s promise not to prosecute required Bill Cosby to speak freely in a lawsuit against him. Since he wouldn’t be charged for the crime, Cosby could not assert his privilege against self-incrimination to avoid testifying. He sat for depositions in a separate lawsuit filed against him by Andrea Constand, and during those depositions, Cosby made several incriminating statements.
However, a second prosecutor reversed Mr. Castor’s decision and charged the actor with assaulting Constand after all. He used the lawsuit testimony – Bill Cosby’s admission that he had given Quaaludes to women over the past decades to have sex with them – in a criminal trial, which was key in his conviction.
Prosecutors violated Bill Cosby’s rights by revoking a promise not to charge him. The conviction was overturned to ensure that Mr. Cosby’s constitutional rights are vindicated, and the Supreme Court says Mr. Cosby can’t be tried again for the same charges. This ruling doesn’t mean Mr. Cosby didn’t commit a crime against Andrea Constand; it only means that he can’t be prosecuted for it.
Could Bill Cosby Face a New Trial?
No, Bill Cosby cannot face a new trial for the same charges. The conviction was overturned, and he will not be prosecuted for the same crime again. However, this immunity from prosecution can only be applied to the specific accusations related to Constand – that she was drugged and assaulted by Cosby.
Other women have also come forward and accused the actor of similarly assaulting them in the past. Unfortunately, since many of those accusations involved encounters that were so long ago, statutes of limitations apply that prevent these women from filing suit against Cosby for these crimes.