On June 30, Pennslyvania’s highest court overturned Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction. He was released from prison after the court stated that the actor’s due process rights were violated. The shocking decision marks the reversal of the first high-profile celebrity criminal trial of the #MeToo era.
The panel of Pennsylvania State Supreme Court judges stated that, according to them, an ex-Montgomery County District Attorney’s decision to not prosecute Cosby back in 2005 in exchange for his deposition in a civil case was used against him at trial. Due to these circumstances, the judges stated, “the subsequent decision by successor D.A.s to prosecute Cosby violated Cosby’s due process rights.”
In 2018, Cosby, who was once called “America’s Dad”, was sentenced to 3 to 10 years in a state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. On June 30, the 83-year-old briefly appeared outside his Pennsylvania residence but did not talk to any reporters. Later that night, the disgraced actor tweeted a photo of himself, thanking his supporters.
When Cosby was released, his former co-star and long-term friend Phylicia Rashad tweeted a picture of the two of them and celebrated his release by tweeting “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!” Later, she deleted that post and said that her remarks were directed at survivors of sexual assault. Rashad also issued an apology to students and parents at Howard University, where she is Dean of Fine Arts. The university renounced her support for Cosby, addressing her initial tweet as “lacking sensitivity.”
On the other hand, Cosby released a statement of solidarity with Rashad, on July 4. He began by calling the mainstream media “Insurrectionists, who stormed the Capitol,” and signed off the statement in capital letters by writing “NO TECHNICALITY — IT’S A VIOLATION OF ONES RIGHTS & WE THE PEOPLE STAND IN SUPPORT OF MS. PHYLICIA RASHAD.”