UPDATED: 5:10 p.m. ET
Bill Cosby was in the comfort of his mansion in suburban Philadelphia in a matter of hours after news broke suddenly on Wednesday that the disgraced comedian’s conviction had been overturned and his release from prison was imminent.
Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned Cosby‘s sex assault conviction after finding that a deal with a previous prosecutor should have prevented him from being criminally charged in the case. The ruling bars any retrial in the case, court documents say. The full court document can be read here.
NBC and MSNBC news anchor Craig Melvin tweeted that Cosby could be released within the next few hours.
Last year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to hear two points in Cosby’s appeal in an argument focused on overturning his 2018 sexual assault conviction. One aspect included reviewing the judge’s decision to let prosecutors call five other accusers in addition to Andrea Constand. Originally the judge only allowed one accuser but allowed the five to testify after the jury deadlocked.
In their ruling, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stated they found the pattern inappropriate, even though the lower appeals court viewed the opposite.
The second dealt with a written agreement between Cosby and the previous Montgomery County prosecutor Bruce Castor not to criminally prosecute Cosby.
Cosby’s release comes after serving over two years of a three to 10-year sentence at the State Correctional Institution at Phoenix near Philadelphia. Cosby opted to serve the maximum of the sentence as opposed to apologizing for the alleged 2004 sexual encounter with his accuser Andrea Constand.
Cosby was accused of drugging and molesting Constand at his estate in 2004. He was charged in 2015 and arrested just days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired.
The comedian who was once believed to be “America’s Dad,” faced dozens of allegations from women who claimed they raped or sexually harassed by a man who once represented the epitome of Black achievement. Others who came forward also said they were drugged. The alleged encounters took place mainly in Los Angeles, New York, and Las Vegas.
Cosby’s prosecution was a key moment in the #MeToo movement, where survivors of sexual violence publicly reclaimed their power, complete with often complicated lessons on intersectionality regarding gender, race, and class.
On social media, while some cheered, others discussed the sobering reality that many victims of sexual assault face who are reduced to suffering in silence.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.