crime

Prosecutors Ask Supreme Court to Review Bill Cosby’s Release

Bill Cosby. Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Back in June, Bill Cosby walked out of prison on a technicality — three years after a jury found him guilty on multiple counts of sexual assault and about a month after a panel denied him parole. The decision to vacate his conviction felt shocking and unexpected to many given how many women have come forward to corroborate the comedian’s M.O. Now prosecutors want the U.S. Supreme Court to review the ruling, hoping the bench will “right what we believe is a grievous wrong.”

Complications in Cosby’s case stem from a deal he struck in 2005 as Bruce Castor, then the district attorney of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, weighed whether to prosecute him for sexually assaulting Andrea Constand the year before. Cosby agreed to a deposition in a subsequent civil suit — in which he admitted to giving women Quaaludes in order to facilitate sex — but only if he could be sure his words would not result in criminal charges. In 2016, Judge Steven T. O’Neill ruled that the agreement was not legally binding, and two years later, Cosby received a three-to-ten-year prison sentence for three counts of aggravated indecent assault. The matter seemed settled until this summer, when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Cosby’s conviction on grounds that Castor’s promise meant he never should have been prosecuted at all.

A statement from current Montgomery County district attorney Kevin Steele asks the Court, “Where a prosecutor publicly announces that he will not file criminal charges based on lack of evidence, does the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment transform that announcement into a binding promise that no charges will ever be filed, a promise that the target may rely on as if it were a grant of immunity?” Whether the Court will take up the case remains to be seen, though the Washington Post points out that it typically awards oral arguments to about 80 of the 7,000 to 8,000 petitions filed each term.

Cosby has always maintained his innocence and continues to do so now. His spokesperson, Andrew Wyatt, said Steele’s appeal asks the Supreme Court to “throw the Constitution out the window” in “a pathetic last-ditch effort that will not prevail.” But maybe the upcoming civil suit against him — for his (alleged) assault of a 15-year-old in 1974 — will?

Prosecutors Ask Supreme Court to Review Bill Cosby’s Release