Bill Cosby Speaks Out After His Prison Release: 'I Have Always Maintained My Innocence'
Bill Cosby was released from prison on Wednesday after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his sexual assault conviction based on the former actor’s agreement with a prosecutor in 2005
The 83-year-old comedian, who has since returned to his home since his release, shared a statement on Twitter, saying, "I have never changed my stance nor my story. I have always maintained my innocence."
He added, "Thank you to all my fans, supporters and friends who stood by me through this ordeal. Special thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for upholding the rule of law."
Cosby served nearly three years of a 10-year sentence in prison after Andrea Constand testified in a criminal case that she was drugged and sexually assaulted by the actor.
Costand and five other women's testimony helped convince jurors to convict Cosby on three counts of aggravated indecent assault in 2018. Cosby's defense denied the accusations, as well as similar allegations made against him outside the courtroom by more than 60 women.
The decision was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court because of an agreement he made with then-Montgomery County district attorney Bruce Castor in 2005 stating that stating that if Cosby sat for a deposition in a civil case Constand had brought, he'd be immune from criminal prosecution.
Castor declined to prosecute Cosby in a criminal case because he didn't believe he had enough evidence to get a conviction, he told PEOPLE on Wednesday.
In that deposition, Cosby admitted that he gave quaaludes to women with whom he wanted to have sex, and also admitted to numerous extramarital affairs.
Castor's successor Kevin Steele, however, brought criminal charges against Cosby in 2015, arresting him days before the statute of limitations expired.
Steele used Cosby's admission in the deposition against him in the criminal trial.
In its judgment, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the decision to use Cosby's statements from his deposition against him deprived him of his Fifth Amendment rights. Cosby, the court stated, had been subject to "an unconstitutional 'coercive bait-and-switch,'" which the court characterized as a "due process violation."
"D.A. Castor's successors did not feel bound by his decision, and decided to prosecute Cosby notwithstanding that prior undertaking," the judgment said. "The fruits of Cosby's reliance upon D.A. Castor's decision — Cosby's sworn inculpatory testimony — were then used by D.A. Castor's successors against Cosby at Cosby's criminal trial."
In addition to releasing Cosby, the courts are prohibiting future criminal charges related to Constand's case.
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ABC News reported that two lower courts refused to overturn Cosby's conviction before the state Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
In response to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision, Constand and her attorneys said in a statement: "On the one hand, the Court acknowledged that the former district attorney's decision not to prosecute Mr. Cosby was not a formal immunity agreement and constituted at best a unilateral exercise of prosecutorial discretion not to prosecute at the time, but nevertheless precluded a future prosecution, which included additional evidence dropped in the civil case."
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But Constand and her attorneys said they "were not privy" to those discussions, and knew only that Castor had issued a news release that "had no meaning or significance to us" in regard to Castor's agreement not to pursue criminal charges.
"Once again," their statement said, "we remain grateful to those women who came forward to tell their stories, to D.A. Kevin Steele and the excellent prosecutors who achieved a conviction at trial, despite the ultimate outcome which resulted from a procedural technicality, and we urge all victims to have their voices heard."
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.