Bill Cosby was released from prison as a free man after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his sexual assault conviction, a move that sparked joy in some quarters but mostly dismayed survivors of assault.
Reaction to the decision has been swift, with organizations helping survivors, as well as elected leaders, largely overturning Cosby’s sentence and describing it as a miscarriage of justice.
“We are deeply disappointed with today’s decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the message this decision sends to the brave survivors who have come forward to seek justice for what Bill Cosby has done to them,” said Scott Berkowitz , president of the national rape, abuse and incest network. said in a statement. “It is not justice.”
Cosby was released after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that an agreement with a former prosecutor prevented him from being charged with sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in Cheltenham, Pa.
Hours after his sexual assault conviction was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Bill Cosby and his legal team spoke to supporters and the media outside his Elkins Park home.
âLet’s not be fooled – this Pennsylvania Supreme Court verdict by no means exonerated Bill Cosby,â said Nina Ahmad, interim president of the Pennsylvania branch of the National Organization for Women. – District Attorney Bruce Castor.
Castor was the Montgomery County district attorney who initially refused to indict Cosby before his successor proceeded with the case. Castor’s actions, in which he told Cosby he would not indict the former comedian if Cosby gave a deposition in a 2014 civil case, were cited as the main reason for the cancellation of Cosby’s conviction on Wednesday.
Former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor, who made a deal with Bill Cosby in 2014 in exchange for deposition in a civil case, explains why he refused to try a criminal case in 2005. The deal has leads to Cosby’s conviction being quashed.
Speaking to NBC10, Castor defended his actions at the time. “There were a lot of things that made me at the time think that a lawsuit would be problematic and impossible to prove,” he said.
In a statement, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said Cosby was released “on a procedural matter unrelated to the facts of the crime.”
“I hope this decision does not hinder the reporting of sexual assault by victims. Prosecutors in my office will continue to follow the evidence where and to whom it leads,” Steele said.
Without calling Cosby by name, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro apparently referred to Wednesday’s ruling in a tweet, saying that survivors of sexual abuse are facing ‘setback after setback’, but they ‘keep going. always to fight â.
Governor Tom Wolf, meanwhile, has said he supports survivors of sexual assault. âPlease continue to speak out, speak out and know that I will do my best to protect victims of sexual violence in Pennsylvania,â he said.
Rachel Copen, acting co-executive director of WOAR – Philadelphia Center Against Sexual Violence, said she feared the decision to quash the case would make it even more difficult for survivors to know what to do after being assaulted.
âWe anticipate that many more people may even be hesitant to ask for help,â Copen said. âPeople who have had an experience in the past might even be traumatized again, might have heightened feelings of fear. “
Some, however, have welcomed the decision to release Cosby.
Phylicia Rashad, who starred alongside the actor on “The Cosby Show” in the ’80s and’ 90s, expressed her joy at its release.
âFINALLY !!!! A terrible wrong is being righted – a miscarriage of justice is corrected!â She tweeted.
Rashad was recently appointed Dean of the College of Fine Arts at Howard University. Her support for Cosby drew calls for her dismissal, with some claiming she sent a hostile message to the students.