Bill Cosby‘s appeal of his 2018 conviction for sexual assault has been accepted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. That could possibly lead to the imprisoned and disgraced comedian’s conviction ultimately being overturned. Cosby’s right-hand man Andrew Wyatt confirmed the news to USA Today on Tuesday afternoon.
“As we have all stated, the false conviction of Bill Cosby is so much bigger than him — it’s about the destruction of ALL Black people and people of color in America,” Wyatt said. “We’re extremely thankful to our attorneys for their tenacious efforts in fighting for the vindication of Mr. Cosby.”
Cosby, 82, is currently serving three to 10 years after being convicted of sexual assault in 2018. Most recently, Cosby’s lawyers were preparing to file a motion to have him released from SCI Phoenix in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, after at least one prison guard in his facility reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus.
According to USA Today, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will be restricted to only reviewing two facets of Cosby’s two criminal trials, with both of them centered on witness testimony.
“The court said it will review Cosby’s case based first on whether the trial judge’s decision to allow other accusers to testify about alleged, uncharged ‘prior bad acts’ by Cosby was prejudicial as opposed to probative, a standard used to allow or disallow testimony,” USA Today reported. “The other issue the court will review is whether the trial judge improperly allowed testimony about a civil deposition Cosby gave after he said he was promised by an earlier district attorney that he would not be prosecuted. By relying on that promise, was Cosby induced to make self-incriminating statements later used against him, and does that violate his constitutional rights against self-incrimination.”
The Associated Press reported that “Cosby’s lawyers also challenged his classification as a sexually violent predator subject to lifetime supervision.” Cosby’s appeal argued that allowing other accusers to take the stand against him “flips constitutional jurisprudence on its head, and the ‘presumption of guilt,’ rather than the presumption of innocence, becomes the premise.”
Cosby was convicted of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004. He was sentenced following a guilty verdict during a re-trial after his first one ended in a mistrial in 2017.
“Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy, young spirit & crushed it,” Constand told the court during Cosby’s sentencing. “He robbed me of my health & vitality, my open nature, and my trust in myself & others.”
Cosby had also been trying to secure his release from prison over coronavirus concerns. His age alone makes him vulnerable, not to mention how the virus has flourished in the American prison system. Ten percent of Pennsylvania’s total prison population is geriatric. If anyone in that group contracts the virus, those prisoners would have to be sent to already over-stressed medical facilities, which are often in rural areas.
“Without immediate action, jails and prisons will be the epicenter of the pandemic,” said Nyssa Taylor, policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.
This is a developing story that will be updated as additional information becomes available.