Bill Cosby released from prison after conviction vacated

On Wednesday, Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned Bill Cosby’s conviction on charges of sexual assault, leading to his release from prison.

Cosby, who is 83 years of age, departed from the State Correctional Institution Phoenix in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania on Wednesday afternoon, as relayed by officials who notified ABC News.

Cosby’s spokesperson, Andrew Wyatt, informed ABC News earlier on Wednesday that he would be retrieving Cosby from the correctional facility.

He showed people the way to his home by flashing a peace sign as he walked. The footage from WPVI station ABC Philadelphia showed Cosby getting out of his car at Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, wearing baggy trousers and a maroon T-shirt, in front of his mansion.

He refused to talk, but Cosby grinned as journalists requested him to answer to no more being imprisoned. Cosby subsequently came out from his residence and strolled to the edge of his driveway where he stood with Wyatt and his attorneys as they spoke to the press.

“What we witnessed today was fairness, fairness for all Americans,” Wyatt stated.

“I have consistently upheld my position and narrative without alteration. I have continuously asserted my lack of guilt. Gratitude is extended to all my admirers, advocates, and companions who remained loyal during this difficult situation. A heartfelt appreciation is also extended to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for preserving the principles of justice,” the actor conveyed in a statement shared on Twitter.

One of Cosby’s appellate attorneys, Jennifer Bonjean, said she and the rest of Cosby’s legal team were “thrilled” to have him home.

“Bonjean mentioned that he was a mentor to other inmates and he conducted himself with dignity. He served an unjust sentence of three years. The time was not wasted on him. I must say, he truly was not wasting his time.”

“She, the state Supreme Court, was grateful for demonstrating her imperviousness to the court of public opinion, unlike the lower courts.”

In 2004, Cosby purportedly administered drugs and engaged in sexual misconduct with former Temple University staff member Andrea Constand. Cosby received a prison sentence of three to 10 years in September 2018. Cosby completed approximately three years of his incarceration.

In a declaration, Constand and her attorneys expressed, “The present majority ruling regarding Bill Cosby is not just disheartening but worrisome as it could potentially dissuade individuals who pursue justice for sexual assault within the legal system from reporting or engaging in the prosecution of the offender or might compel a survivor to decide between pursuing either a criminal or civil lawsuit.”

Last year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to review two matters in Cosby’s appeal with the aim of overturning his 2018 conviction for sexual assault.

According to a ruling released on Wednesday, the state Supreme Court determined that Cosby’s prosecution should not have taken place because of an agreement he made with former Montgomery County prosecutor Bruce Castor. Castor had agreed to not pursue criminal charges against Cosby if he provided a deposition in a civil case filed against him by Constand.

During that deposition, Cosby uttered incriminating remarks which were utilized by Kevin R. Steele, Castor’s replacement, to file charges against Cosby in 2015.

In her statement, Constand mentioned that the decision to reverse the conviction was due to “a procedural technicality.”

Castor is the same attorney who later represented former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial earlier this year.

The justices of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania wrote in their 79-page decision that the exercise of discretion vested in our Commonwealth’s prosecutors does not mean they are free from the constraints of due process.

The justices stated that when the results of a criminal prosecution would have been foregone for more than a decade, it is a fundamental affront to fairness to deny the defendant the benefit of that decision. In some instances, this also applies when the defendant’s counsel advises against it (and to the defendant’s detriment), and when the defendant’s intent is to induce reliance and action, and the decision to charge unconditionally is publicly made by the defendant.

The ruling continued to state that Cosby was the target of an unconstitutional “manipulative bait-and-switch.”

Cosby settled a civil lawsuit in 2006 for more than $3 million and testified during four days of depositions conducted by Constand’s attorneys. He believed he had immunity from criminal prosecution.

The judges stated, “were in vain, the repercussions of that loss in the legal case, and everything that he had relinquished previously, he suffered: the instant Cosby faced criminal charges, in terms of practicality.”

Cosby cannot be prosecuted again for the criminal allegations.

Steele is now free on a procedural issue, where the jury found him guilty for a crime that said the facts are irrelevant to Wednesday’s afternoon statement.

“Steele commended Constand for her bravery in remaining steadfast throughout this long ordeal, as well as for her shared experiences with other women who have gone through similar situations.”

Steele expressed, “I hope this decision will not discourage victims from reporting sexual assaults.” Steele added, “Prosecutors in my office will continue to follow the evidence and pursue leads.” Steele further stated, “We believe that no one, including those who are powerful, famous, or wealthy, is above the law.”

In a conversation with KYW Newsradio in Philadelphia, Castor expressed that he was “not taken aback” by the state Supreme Court’s ruling.

Castor informed the radio station that the Supreme Court dismissed the case and did not order a new trial in a situation where the prosecutor’s conduct was extremely outrageous, which I can only remember happening once before. Mr. Cosby’s actions were truly appalling and the treatment he received should never be inflicted upon any American citizen, regardless of their social status. Therefore, it is an uncommon occurrence, but what transpired was undeniably egregious.

Several women represented by Attorney Gloria Allred, who testified at Cosby’s trial to bolster the prosecution’s evidence of prior bad acts committed by the entertainer, showcased a pattern of behavior.

He has been charged with actions in which he did not participate and should not be understood as a declaration or a conclusion that Cosby’s behavior was not justified and invalidated the verdict based on technical reasons, even though the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled. According to Allred, this was a significant battle for fairness,” Allred informed ABC News Live.

Janice Kinney Baker, one of the women who testified at Bill Cosby’s criminal trial, was shocked when she was told on Live News ABC on Wednesday that she was allegedly sexually assaulted by him in 1982 when she was a 24-year-old bartender in Reno, Nevada.

Kinney said, “This legal decision can greatly confuse young children. Many women have shared their experiences, and many people have come forward when this legal decision can greatly confuse young children.” I am shocked and my stomach is upset by this.

Another accuser, former Playboy model Victoria Valentino, who claimed that she was sexually assaulted and drugged by Cosby when she was a young woman, did not testify at the trial, as ABC News reported that her stomach was lurching upon hearing the news.

“I am deeply distressed about the injustice of the whole thing,” Valentino said. “You know, he’s a sociopath, he’s a serial rapist.”.

She said that Cosby’s request for parole was denied after receiving a letter from other accusers of Cosby in Pennsylvania, just days before his release.

In May, Cosby’s request for early release was rejected by corrections officials due to his refusal to engage in prison programs for sex offenders. Despite maintaining his innocence, Cosby’s parole has been denied.

During Cosby’s appeal, his lawyers argued that the judge erred in allowing the deposition about Cosby’s consensual sexual encounters with women in the 1970s, where he used quaaludes.

Two lower courts, including a three-judge panel of Pennsylvania Superior Court judges, had previously declined to reverse the comedian’s conviction.

Despite the flood of allegations against him, Cosby has insisted that he never participated in nonconsensual intercourse.