TW: Mention of sexual assault and rape.
Sex offender Bill Cosby, once one of the most beloved men in America, was released from prison today.
The highest court in Pennsylvania threw out Bill Cosby's sexual assault conviction because "the court ruled the prosecutor who brought the case was bound by his predecessor's agreement not to charge Cosby," according to AP News.
The 83-year-old served only three years of his three-to-ten year prison sentence for the sexual assault and drugging of Andrea Constand. The crime occurred in 2004, and Cosby was charged in 2015 mere days before the statute of limitations was set to run out. Cosby admitted to routinely securing quaaludes to give to women he wanted to have sex with, though he has maintained that the subsequent sex was always consensual. According to 58 victims, this was not the case, with many claiming that Cosby was sexually violent and assaulted them while they were unwillingly under the influence of drugs.
In a shocking turn of events, Pennsylvania's high court ruled Wednesday that DA Kevin Steele who chose to arrest Cosby in 2015, was not actually able to arrest Cosby because he had to stand by his predecessor's promise not to charge Cosby, though multiple publications report that this promise was never put into legally binding writing.
The court argued that when Cosby gave his incriminating testimony about the Costrand assault, it was under the assurance that he could not be tried criminally. The court called Cosby's arrest "an affront to fundamental fairness, particularly when it results in a criminal prosecution that was forgone for more than a decade." It said justice and "fair play and decency" require that the district attorney's office stand by the decision of the previous DA.
The court went on to say that their decision "is the only remedy that comports with society's reasonable expectations of its elected prosecutors and our criminal justice system." A spokesman for Cosby, Andrew Wyatt, said in response to the verdict: "This is the justice Mr Cosby has been fighting for. They saw the light," Mr Wyatt said. "He was given a deal and he had immunity. He should have never been charged."
Cosby has been accused of sexual assaults by more than 58 women but was only charged in the case of Costrand, despite five other victims testifying as witnesses in the Costrand trial.
Even more Infuriating, Cosby has not shown any remorse for his violently predatory behavior, refusing to participate in sex offender programs behind bars and subsequently being denied parole last year. According to AP News, "He said he would resist the treatment programs and refuse to acknowledge wrongdoing even if it meant serving the full 10 years."
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, many sexual assault survivors were beginning to feel hopeful that our culture of sexual violence was beginning to change. In fact, Cosby's conviction in 2018 was seen as a turning point in the #MeToo movement.
But as we see more and more powerful, predatory men face lenient prison sentences, if they face prosecution at all, it's difficult to feel like anything is really changing. At the very least, this verdict is proof that we still have a very long way to go.
It's particularly cutting that Cosby was cleared and released on the same day that Allison Mack, of Smallville fame, was sentenced to three years in prison for racketeering and sex trafficking within Keith Raniere's NXIVM cult. As Roxane Gay dryly pointed out on Twitter, "Allison Mack will serve more time than Bill Cosby. Fascinating."
While Mack's own actions were egregious, the justice system punishing a woman who facilitated sexual assault more severely than a man who committed multiple assaults is a painful reminder that the current system protects powerful men.
Allison Mack will serve more time than Bill Cosby. Fascinating.— roxane gay (@roxane gay) 1625085310.0
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