In a shocking move Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled to overturn comedian Bill Cosby’s conviction in a 2018 sexual assault case.
Cosby, accused of sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, was convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault in 2018, in what was said to be the first trial of the post-#MeToo era. Cosby, who has refused to admit any wrongdoing, was sentenced in late September 2018 to serve between three and 10 years in prison.
Cosby will be released from prison on Wednesday, ABC News reported. His publicist will be picking him up.
In its decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that Cosby’s conviction should be overturned on the grounds that a local district attorney, Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor, had previously announced that Cosby would not be prosecuted for Constand’s accusations. That announcement, according to the court, was made in order to help Constand win a civil lawsuit against Cosby—which, ultimately, resulted in a multimillion-dollar settlement for Constand.
When Cosby was deposed as part of that lawsuit, he never invoked his constitutional rights not to incriminate himself, because he believed that he would never be criminally prosecuted, according to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Later on, Castor’s successors didn’t feel like they had to abide by his decision not to prosecute. So they went after Cosby.
Cosby’s testimony in that deposition was later used against him, which, in the eyes of the court, means that Castor’s announcement ended up stripping Cosby of his rights.
“Cosby gave up a fundamental constitutional right, was compelled to participate in a civil case after losing that right, testified against his own interests, weakened his position there and ultimately settled the case for a large sum of money, was tried twice in criminal court, was convicted, and has served several years in prison,” Justice David Wecht wrote in the court’s 79-page opinion. “He must be discharged, and any future prosecution on these particular charges must be barred. We do not dispute that this remedy is both severe and rare. But it is warranted here, indeed compelled.”
Beyond Constand, dozens of women have accused the comedian once known as “America’s Dad” of sexual misconduct.