On Wednesday, Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned disgraced comedian Bill Cosby’s conviction for drugging and molesting a Temple University employee in 2004.
The decision, first reported by the Associated Press, was rendered on the basis that an agreement with a previous prosecutor prevented Cosby, now 83, from being charged in the case.
According to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the prosecutor who arrested Cosby was bound by his predecessor’s agreement not to try Cosby. Overturning the guilty verdict and blocking any further prosecution “is the only remedy that comports with society’s reasonable expectations of its elected prosecutors and our criminal justice system,” it said in a statement.
A separate concern voiced by justices was whether Cosby’s trial had included inadmissible testimony, as five other accusers testified about similar experiences with Cosby in the 1980s. Although the argument was made that the testimony spoke to Cosby’s pattern of behavior, a law on prior bad acts argues that testimony about wrongdoings that were not proven, or that are blocked from prosecution by the statute of limitations, cannot be used.
Cosby, once beloved as “America’s Dad” and the wholesome patriarch of the family sitcom The Cosby Show, has faced numerous accusations of drugging and molesting women, beginning as early as 1965. He was convicted in 2018, after another trove of accusations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein spurred the revolutionary #MeToo movement.
Cosby has since served more than two years of a three-to-10-year sentence in a Philadelphia-area prison, vowing in 2019 to serve the full time rather than show remorse for his actions. He is now eligible for immediate release.