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The rise, fall, and now jaw-dropping release from jail of Bill Cosby

The rise, fall, and now jaw-dropping release from jail of Bill Cosby
State Supreme Court rules former actor to be released and future prosecutions barred

Quando Bill Cosby was led away in handcuffs three years ago, convicted of sexually assaulting a woman and sentenced to jail, there were many who doubted he would ever see the outside of a prison cell again.

The sentence was for between three to 10 anos, but the former entertainer was aged 81, and by his own admission was in poor health. Lawyers and activists, along with multiple women who claimed the star of The Cosby Show had sexually assaulted them, believed a line had finally been drawn under an issue that had rumbled on for years.

“It is time for justice,” Judge Steven O’Neill had told the court in Montgomery County, Pensilvânia, after Cosby had earlier that year been found guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, a Temple University employee, at his home in 2004. “Mr Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The day has come. The time has come.”

Now Cosby is a free man again. Na quarta-feira, the state’s highest court agreed with the appeal Cosby had said he planned to launch the day he was sentenced, and threw out the conviction. Agora, envelhecido 83, he was released from detention shortly after the ruling.

The split decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court came after Cosby had served more than two years of his sentence. The court majority found that a state prosecutor, Bruce Castor, struck a deal with Cosby’s lawyers attorneys in 2005 not to bring criminal charges.

Como resultado, Cosby was unable to avoid testifying as part of a civil lawsuit that Constand brought against him, since defendants can only refuse to testify when faced with criminal prosecution.

“In light of these circumstances, the subsequent decision by successor DAs to prosecute Cosby violated Cosby’s due process rights,” Justice David Wecht wrote for the majority. “There is only one remedy that can completely restore Cosby to the status quo ante. He must be discharged, and any future prosecution on these particular charges must be barred.”

The news from Pennsylvania reverberated like a jolt among those who had followed the case, and the previous claims of assault against Cosby, which – like the allegation by prosecutors in the Constand case – he had denied.

And it marked another twist in the story of the man who for decades was known for his role as the lovable husband and father in the 1980s television comedy series The Cosby Show, which ran for eight seasons on NBC from 1984 para 1992.

For millions of Americans, his nickname was “America’s Dad”, and for many African Americans, his success in an industry dominated by white actors was reason to cheer.

Bill Cosby leave court in handcuffs

Ainda, his reputation, even in the role of racial politics, was complicated: he often berated and attacked the Black community for not doing more to “help itself”.

Dentro 2004, por exemplo, he not only accused African Americans of failing to educate their children, but also claimed Black men beat their wives.

“You’ve got to stop beating up your women because you can’t find a job, because you didn’t want to get an education and now you’re earning minimum wage,” Cosby said at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund’s annual conference.

“You should have thought more of yourself when you were in high school, when you had an opportunity.”

Dentro 2017, the first prosecution of the Philadelphia-born actor ended in a mistrial. In the spring of 2018, a second trial resulted in his conviction on similar, but different charges.

Em tudo, he was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. As the trial played out against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement, the massage therapist who stood up and faced Cosby in court was watched by many woman who sought to have their claims against the actor tested in court, but were prevented from doing so by the statute of limitations.

“We may never know the full extent of his double life as a sexual predator, but his decades-long reign of terror as a serial rapist is over,” she wrote in a witness statement.

“Life as I knew it came to an abrupt halt, I was a young woman brimming with confidence and looking forward to a future bright with possibilities. Agora, quase 15 anos depois, I’m a middle-aged woman who’s been stuck in a holding pattern for most of her adult life, unable to heal fully or to move forward.”

In October last year, authorities released a fresh mug shot showed Cosby partly smiling with a disposable mask hanging from his face. In the image, released by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, the former actor was unshaven, and apparently wearing an orange prison outfit.

It was a stark difference from the suited and shaven actor who had been led away in September 2018 by bailiffs, his request for being released on bond while he appealed the case, turned down. Então, Cosby was wearing a white shirt and red braces. His tie and jacket had been removed.

The judge had told him: “Fallen angels suffer most.”

Additional reporting by Reuters