Bill Cosby’s Prison Sentence Overturned

Published 3 years ago
Sentencing Begins In Bill Cosby Trial

TOPLINE: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction on Wednesday, paving the way for the 83-year-old to be released from prison after serving more than two years of a three- to ten-year sentence.


The court said that a promise a previous prosecutor had made not to prosecute Cosby in order to compel him to testify in a civil lawsuit meant he couldn’t legally be charged in the sexual assault case.

In 2018, Cosby was convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his Pennsylvania estate in 2004, leading to a sentence in September 2018 of three to ten years in prison.


But in 2005, then Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor determined the case against Cosby was unwinnable, leading to an agreement that Cosby would not be charged—but he would be deposed for a civil suit brought by Constand.

That deposition was used years later to charge Cosby just days before the statute of limitations for sexual assault was set to expire, leading to a 2017 mistrial after jurors deadlocked.

Cosby was tried again in 2018, and was convicted after prosecutors called several women who’d made similar claims of drugging and sexual assault to testify—which did not happen in the 2017 trial.

The Supreme Court also ruled that allowing the accusers’ testimony was inappropriate, finding it served as more of a character attack than affirming a pattern of criminal behavior.



“Denying the defendant the benefit of that decision is an affront to fundamental fairness,” the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said of the 2005 agreement. “Particularly when it results in a criminal prosecution that was foregone for more than a decade.”


Cosby’s publicist, Andrew Wyatt, will reportedly pick him up from the state prison in Skippack Township on Wednesday afternoon.


Before the accusations surfaced, Cosby had a public image as a wholesome comedian and was often referred to as “America’s Dad.” His 1984–92 television series, The Cosby Show, was considered a landmark in television as the first highly popular show to depict a stable and successful Black family. Cosby also created the beloved character “Fat Albert” from his years as a comic and launched an animated series aimed at preschoolers called Little Bill in 1999. His shows were largely pulled from television after the sexual assault allegations became public.


Castor—the DA who made the agreement with Cosby—served as a member of President Donald Trump’s defense team during his second impeachment trial in 2020. His opening statement was widely considered a rambling and bizarre defense.



moment credited with bringing what had been longstanding—but not widely known—allegations against Cosby into the spotlight came in 2014, when comedian Hannibal Buress mentioned them as part of a joke during a stand-up show at a Philadelphia theater. Buress said he had used the bit for about six months, but a video of the 2014 show widely spread online, leading many to learn of the allegations against Cosby for the first time.


Bill Cosby Granted Appeal In Sexual Assault Case (Forbes)