In September 2018, Bill Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison following his conviction for sexual assault

By Claudia Harmata
June 23, 2020 04:19 PM
Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

Disgraced comedian Bill Cosby has been granted the right to appeal his 2018 sexual assault conviction, according to several reports.

On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the 82-year-old actor — who has been serving his three-to-10-year sentence in Montgomery County for the last two years after a jury convicted him of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman, Andrea Constand, at his home in 2004 — would be allowed to appeal two issues in the case.

The first issue that the court wants to review is the judge’s decision to let prosecutors call five other accusers to testify about alleged assaults that were not part of the charges.

Prosecutors defended these "prior bad act" testimonies as evidence that Cosby had a pattern in his assaults. Meanwhile, Cosby’s legal team has repeatedly challenged those testimonies as unreliable, claiming they should not have been allowed in court.

The second issue focuses on Cosby’s argument that he had an alleged agreement with a former prosecutor who promised that he would not be charged in the case. With that perceived immunity, Cosby agreed to be questioned during depositions in 2005 and during a civil lawsuit filed by Andrea Constand in 2006.

Bill Cosby departs after a pretrial hearing in his sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, in Norristown, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Bill Cosby
| Credit: Matt Slocum/AP

The initial lawsuit in 2006 between Cosby and Constand had been settled that year. However, a decade later, more than 60 women came forward with similar allegations that Cosby had drugged and sexually assaulted them.

Prosecutors decided to reopen the case in 2015, just days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired, and relied on Constand's and Cosby's statements from the prior civil deposition.

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Cosby was arrested in December 2015, and in 2017 the first jury deadlocked and a mistrial was declared. However, in September 2018, a second jury — who heard from five other accusers — convicted Cosby on three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

Throughout each trial, Cosby has maintained his innocence, saying the sexual encounter between him and Constand was consensual.

According to CNN, Cosby's spokesman Andrew Wyatt said they were "extremely thankful" for the new ruling, and said the actor's ongoing plight was linked to the protests against systemic racism in the justice system.

"America and the world is witnessing the 23rd day of protests regarding the abuse and murder of Black people, not just at the hands of corrupt police officers; but these extremely vital and important protests are exposing the corruption that lies within the criminal justice system (District Attorneys & Judges)," he said in a statement, the outlet reports.

"As we have all stated, the false conviction of Bill Cosby is so much bigger than him — it's about the destruction of ALL Black people and people of color in America," Wyatt added.

Constand also released a statement on Twitter regarding the appeal, saying that she has "no doubt that the Supreme Court of PA will do the right thing."

"I respectfully ask the Supreme Court of PA to consider the enormous prospect of putting my perpetrator back into the community after being labelled a convicted sexually violent predator who has shown no remorse for his actions," she wrote.

"While everyone deserves for their cries and appeals to be heard, even convicted criminals, if anyone's cries matter most right now, it's the women who have lifted their voices and selflessly put themselves in harm's way, such as the prior bad act witnesses in my case. They are the true heroes," she added. "Regardless of our national heritage, color, creed or identity we all deserve justice, that is a fact."