Bill Cosby prosecutors bring case to US High Court – NBC New York

Bill Cosby prosecutors bring case to US High Court - NBC New York

Prosecutors called on the US Supreme Court to review the ruling that overturned Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction, arguing in a petition on Monday that a dangerous precedent could be set for press releases to be treated as immunity agreements .

Cosby’s lawyers have long argued that when he made a harmful testimony on a 2006 civil complaint brought by a prosecutor, he would be counting on the promise that he would never be charged. The confessions were later used in two criminal trials against him.

The only written evidence of such a promise is a 2005 press release from then-prosecutor Bruce Castor, who said he did not have enough evidence to arrest Cosby.

The publication contained an ambiguous “caution” that Castor “will reconsider this decision if necessary”. The parties have been debating what that means for years.

“This decision, as it stands, will have far-reaching negative consequences beyond Montgomery County and Pennsylvania. The US Supreme Court can correct what we believe is a grave wrong, ”Montgomery County’s District Attorney Kevin Steele wrote in the petition requesting a Supreme Court review under the due process clause of the US Constitution.

Prosecutors have also complained that the presiding judge of the state Supreme Court appeared to have misrepresented the key facts of the case when speaking in a television interview about the court ruling that overturned Cosby’s conviction.

Castor’s successors, who gathered new evidence and arrested Cosby in 2015, say it falls far short of a lifetime immunity agreement. They also doubt Castor ever made such a deal. Instead, they say Cosby had strategic reasons to make the testimony instead of invoking his right to remain silent, even if it backfired when “he slipped in his rambling testimony.”

However, defense lawyers say the case should never have gone to court because of a so-called “non-prosecution agreement”.

Cosby, 84, became the first celebrity to be convicted of sexual assault in the #MeToo era when the jury found him guilty of drugging and molesting college sports administrator Andrea Constand on his 2018 retrial.

He spent nearly three years in prison before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court released him in June.

Steele’s attempt to revive the case is lengthy. The US Supreme Court accepts less than 1% of petitions it receives. However, legal scholars and victim advocates will be watching closely whether the court is interested in a high profile #MeToo case.

Two court judges, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, were charged with sexual misconduct during their highly competitive confirmatory hearings.

The appellate judges have expressed very different views on the Cosby case. An interstate court upheld the conviction. Then the seven justices of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued three separate opinions on it.

The majority noted that Cosby was reliant on the decision not to prosecute him when he admitted to having given drugs and alcohol to a number of young women prior to sexual encounters. The court stopped short of determining that there was such an agreement, but said Cosby thought there was one – that confidence, they said, had tarnished his conviction.

But the prosecutors say that this conclusion is flawed. They find that Cosby’s lawyers vigorously protested the questions about the testimony rather than allowing him to speak freely.

Cosby herself never testified about an agreement or promise. The only alleged participant who comes forward is Castor, a political rival of Steele who represented President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial. Castor said he made the promise to a now-deceased Cosby defense attorney and got nothing in return.

He never mentioned it to top assistant Risa Ferman who led his Cosby investigation.

She later became a prosecutor and reopened the case in 2015 after a federal judge unsealed Cosby’s testimony.

At a notable pre-trial hearing in February 2016, Castor spent hours testifying on behalf of the defense. He said he retyped the press release himself after office hours to convey various levels of meaning to lawyers, the press and the public.

The judge found him not credible and sent the case to court.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court described Cosby’s arrest in its June 30 ruling as “an affront to fundamental fairness.”

Weeks later, the ruling caused the attorney general to dismiss charges against a prison guard charged with sexually abusing female inmates, based on an earlier agreement with the district attorney who resigned instead of facing charges.

Cosby, a groundbreaking black actor and comedian, created the high profile “Cosby Show” in the 1980s. A spate of sexual assault allegations later destroyed his image as “America’s father” and resulted in multi-million dollar court settlements with at least eight women. But Constand’s case was the only case that resulted in a criminal complaint.

Five of them testified for the prosecutor in support of Constand’s claims, testimony that also challenged Cosby’s attorneys on appeal. However, the state’s highest court declined to address the sensitive issue of how many other prosecutors can testify in criminal trials before the evidence becomes unfair to the defense.

In a recent memoir, Constand called the verdict less important than growing support for sexual assault survivors inspired by the #MeToo movement.

“The outcome of the trial seemed strangely unimportant. It was like the world had changed again in a much more significant way, “wrote Constand in the book” The Moment “.


Follow Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at

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