Bill Cosby freed from prison after sexual assault conviction overturned due to technicality

The 83-year-old had served three years of a three to 10-year sentence at a maximum-security prison.

Andrew Koay | July 01, 2021, 04:40 PM

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A frail-looking Bill Cosby was released from prison on June 30, 2021 after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his 2018 conviction for sexual assault.

According to the New York Times, the decision was made after the court ruled that Cosby, 83, should never have faced the charges brought against him due to a "non-prosecution agreement" he had struck with a previous prosecutor.

Cosby had served three years of a three to 10-year sentence at a maximum-security prison.

However, the technicality does not necessary mean Cosby has been absolved of guilt.

Accused of drugging & molesting a woman

The former America's Dad had been found guilty in 2018 of three counts of aggravated indecent assault against a woman named Andrea Constand, with the now-overturned decision seen as the first major criminal conviction and reversal of the #MeToo era.

She'd accused the comedian — whom she saw as a mentor — of drugging and molesting her.

The BBC reported that Constand first came forward with her allegations in 2005, though former state prosecutor Bruce Castor did not press criminal charges.

Instead, she sued Cosby for sexual battery and defamation, which resulted in a settlement reached in 2006.

In 2014 and 2015, other women came forward with similar allegations against Cosby.

Prosecutors then decided to reopen Constand's case.

The statute of limitations meant that most of the new allegations made by the women who had recently came forward could not be pursued.

Cosby was eventually arrested and charged days before the 12-year limit on Constand's accusations were set to expire.

Procedural issue

However, on June 30, 2021, a 79-page ruling by judges from Pennsylvania's supreme court cited an agreement made between Cosby and Castor, stating that the comedian would not be charged if he testified in Constand's civil lawsuit.

The New York Times reported that with that assurance, Cosby acknowledged during the civil suit that he had given drugs to women he was pursuing for a sexual relationship.

This was later used as evidence when Castor's successors reopened the case against Cosby.

"There is only one remedy that can completely restore Cosby to the status quo ante. He must be discharged, and any future prosecution on these particular charges must be barred," read the 2021 ruling, according to BBC.

"We do not dispute that this remedy is both severe and rare. But it is warranted here."

Maintains innocence

In a Twitter post after his release, Cosby maintained his innocence.

"I have never changed my stance nor my story," he wrote next to an accompanying photo of the actor with his fist raised in the air.

Video footage of Cosby returning to his home saw the elderly man helped as he hobbled from the car to doorstep.

Along the way he took a moment to flash a "V" sign at reporters.

Prosecutor Kevin Steele said in a statement that Cosby had been freed by a "procedural issue that is irrelevant to the facts of the crime".

"My hope is that this decision will not dampen the reporting of sexual assaults by victims," he wrote.

"We still believe that no one is above the law - including those who are rich, famous and powerful."

Top photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images