But that preferential treatment did not occur when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out the 83-year-old actor’s sexual assault conviction and ordered him released from prison after serving three years of a potential 10-year sentence.
The special handling occurred 16 years ago when a Philadelphia prosecutor cut a deal with Cosby and his attorney, promising to spare Cosby a criminal prosecution if he would instead give a candid accounting of his misconduct in a lawsuit subsequently filed by his female accuser, Andrea Constand.
Pennsylvania’s highest court said that even though there was no written agreement to that effect, it believed Cosby that such a deal was struck. As a result, the court ruled, the deal bound not only the prosecutor who admitted to making it, Bruce Castor, but also his successor.
The justices had good reason to conclude that, at least on this point, Cosby was telling the truth. The testimony he gave during those 2005 depositions was highly incriminating, including his acknowledgment that he drugged Constand and a number of other young women in order to make them more pliable to his advances, while he stayed sober.
His own words supported the allegations of dozens of women who claimed that “America’s Dad” was a serial sexual predator, who followed the same modus operandi again and again: using his celebrity and wealth, plus booze and tranquilizers, to lure and take advantage of women decades younger than he.
There is no way Cosby would have sanely offered all those details in a lawsuit if he or his attorneys believed the testimony could be used against him later in a criminal proceeding.
Defendants cannot be entrapped by a criminal justice system that promises a deal for their cooperation and then reneges on that deal at a later date.
Such double-dealing is not just unfair. It also entraps the accused into providing incriminating information against themselves, a violation of their Fifth Amendment rights.
Castor should not have offered that bargain to Cosby. He allowed the actor, at the time of Constand’s initial allegation, to buy off the shame of a public trial and potential prison time.
Rather than prosecuting Cosby and preventing him from preying on other women, Castor aided Cosby in shutting up an accuser, at least temporarily, by steering the case to a civil proceeding, where it would be easier to hide the matter under a cloak of confidentiality.
Only someone with a lot of money could have hoped for a tradeoff as good as that.”
Bill Cosby’s Release a ‘Travesty and an Injustice’
The leader of the Time’s Up movement also gave the Supreme Court what for, according to Brian Welk in The Wrap. CEO and president of the Time’s Up organization, Tina Tchen, essentially ranted:
“Today’s devastating decision to overturn the conviction of a man who caused so much harm, pain, and emotional trauma to so many women is a travesty and an injustice.
It reminds us again of the struggle that the survivors of his predatory behavior and actions have endured to make their voice’s heard.
The semblance of justice these women had in knowing Cosby was convicted has been completely erased with his release today.
But let’s be clear, even the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision did not challenge the finding of the jury that Bill Cosby committed sexual assault.
To the survivors in this case, each of you came forward with great courage against a powerful man at great personal risk.
We were standing with you then and we’re here standing next to you now.
We are holding you up in this deeply painful moment.
We will continue to fight for and with you, and hope this decision won’t discourage you or others from continuing in the fight to end sexual violence.
Your bravery and resolve will not be in vain. Time’s Up will continue to help survivors in their pursuit of accountability and justice, while advocating for the changes in culture and policy that are essential to creating the safe and equitable workplaces we all deserve.
The fight to fix the broken system continues. Your voices matter.”
Bill Cosby’s special treatment.
And lawyers—too many to count—also weighed in on the Court’s decision. These quotes from a detailed NYTimes article about the Court’s ruling are just a sampling:
“I think the court was in error and read the case incorrectly,” said Lynne M. Abraham, a former Philadelphia district attorney and judge. “The court’s decision was a terrible blow to victims and a blow to prosecutors’ ability to prosecute someone where the evidence tended to show he was a predator and when all sorts of things suggested there wasn’t a promise.”
“The most fundamental thing that struck me,” said Dennis McAndrews, a Pennsylvania lawyer and former prosecutor, “was they said the trial judge’s findings were supported by the record and they were bound by them and then they went off and made their own factual findings. It’s exceptional to see an appellate court go to such lengths to find their own facts.”
Daniel Filler, dean of Drexel University’s Kline School of Law, said one has to question whether the average person would have gotten the benefit of the doubt that Cosby did. “Because there is no documentation that this promise was made, only this public statement that does not track exactly with what Castor said.”
“The very premise that somehow this promise was made, it’s not in writing and this very rich, well-lawyered person relied upon it and it’s therefore enforceable, is crazy,” said Nancy Erika Smith, a civil rights lawyer in New Jersey. “The trial court saw Bruce Castor testify and found Bruce Castor not credible, usually that’s the end of the story.”
And your take?
Prosecutors say they are looking into the possibility of appealing the Court’s decision. Do you support such a move? Why or why not?
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