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Bill Cosby released from prison after sex assault conviction is overturned by court

Bill Cosby
Posted at 9:48 AM, Jun 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 16:31:06-04

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bill Cosby was released from prison Wednesday after Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned the comedian’s sex assault conviction.

Video captured by WPVI showed the moment Cosby arrived at his home, got out of a vehicle, and walked inside with his family.

“Cosby’s convictions and judgment of sentence are vacated, and he is discharged,” wrote Justice David N. Wecht of the state’s supreme court in a majority opinion.

The court said Wednesday that it found an agreement with a previous prosecutor prevented Cosby from being charged in the case.

The 83-year-old man has served more than two years at a state prison near Philadelphia. Cosby had vowed to serve his full 10-year sentence rather than acknowledge any remorse over the 2004 encounter with accuser Andrea Constand.

Cosby, who was once beloved as “America’s Dad,” was charged in 2015 when a prosecutor armed with new evidence arrested him days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired.

In an opinion released by the state’s high court, Justice Wecht wrote that a district attorney who made the decision to arrest Cosby was obligated to stand by a promise from his predecessor to not charge the actor when he later provided potentially incriminating testimony in a civil suit brought by Constand.

Wecht said Cosby had relied on the former prosecutor’s decision not to charge him when he gave that testimony.

“When an unconditional charging decision is made publicly and with the intent to induce action and reliance by the defendant, and when the defendant does so to his detriment (and in some instances upon the advice of counsel), denying the defendant the benefit of that decision is an affront to fundamental fairness, particularly when it results in a criminal prosecution that was foregone for more than a decade. No mere changing of the guard strips that circumstance of its inequity,” wrote Wecht in his conclusion.

Actress Phylicia Rashad, who played Cosby's wife on "The Cosby Show," quickly took to social media to short her support for the overturned conviction.

"FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!" wrote Rashad in a tweet with Cosby's photo.

As for the White House’s reaction to the court’s decision, Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that she didn’t have a direct response, but that Biden is an advocate for fighting against violence against women.

"I don't have a direct response from the White House. I will say, reiterate the president has long been an advocate for fighting against violence against women, for ensuring that we are raising the voices and stories of survivors of sexual assault, he's done throughout his career. No comment on that today," she said when asked about the case.