Bill Cosby released from jail after his sexual assault conviction overturned

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After nearly three years in prison, Bill Cosby is free. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned the American actor’s conviction for sexual assault. A technical decision, on the form and not on the substance of the case.

Comedian Bill Cosby was released from prison on Wednesday, June 30, just after the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in the United States quashed his conviction for sexual assault.

“Bill Cosby’s convictions and sentences are overturned and he must be released,” the state’s high court wrote at the end of a 79-page long judgment.

The 83-year-old creator of “The Cosby Show” was released from SCI Phoenix, a prison in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, where he was being held.

William Henry Cosby, Jr, by his full name, was convicted in September 2018 for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, a woman he invited to his home in 2004. The sentence retained was at least three years. imprisonment (10 years maximum), which corresponds almost to the length of time he has already spent in detention.

A technical cancellation

In its decision, the Supreme Court recalls that the first prosecutor in charge of the case had decided not to prosecute him in criminal matters, while encouraging him to testify in civil proceedings brought by the complainant.

However, this testimony was then held against him during his trial, when a new prosecutor decided to relaunch the case years later, note the magistrates, who rendered a technical decision and not on the merits of the case.

“When a prosecutor makes a public decision with the intention of influencing the actions of the accused and the latter does so to his detriment (and sometimes on the advice of his lawyer), denying him the benefit of this decision is an affront to the fundamental principle of fairness, ”the Supreme Court justices said.

“He is not released because he is innocent”

Bill Cosby’s conviction was seen as the first of the #MeToo era and a victory in the fight against sexual violence against women.

Considered the incarnation of the ideal father in his television show, the actor, one of the first black comedians to break into the small screen, was accused by about sixty women of sexual assault and sometimes rape, covered by the prescription.

“I hope this decision will not dissuade victims from reporting sexual assault,” said prosecutor Kevin Steele, at the origin of the prosecution, in a statement. “We always believe that no one is above the law, including those who are rich, famous and powerful.”

Dozens of women have publicly accused Bill Cosby of sexually assaulting them, prescribed facts in all cases except the Constand case, the only one that has led to prosecution. The sexual assault of Andrea Constand had not escaped the prescription for a few days.

“He is not released because he is innocent,” reacted on Twitter, lawyer Lisa Bloom, who represents three women who accuse Bill Cosby of having assaulted them, who are “disgusted” by the news. For the lawyer, the former humorist will be released from prison “because a prosecutor promised him years ago that he would not be prosecuted”.

Asked about the case, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Joe Biden had no “direct answer” to this court decision, while specifying that “the president has been, for a long time, a supporter of the fight against violence against women “.

With AFP

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