PHILADELPHIA (AP) – In an astonishing decision that could test the legal framework for #MeToo cases, comedian Bill Cosby obtained the right to fight his conviction for sexual assault in 2018 before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Cosby, 82, was jailed in the Philadelphia suburbs for almost two years after a jury convicted him of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at her home in 2004. He is serving a sentence of three to ten years.
The Supreme Court agreed to reconsider two aspects of the case, including the judge’s decision to let prosecutors call five other accusers to testify to past meetings with the once powerful actor and comedian. Cosby’s lawyers have long disputed this testimony as distant and unreliable. The court will also consider, to the extent that it assesses the scope of the authorized evidence, whether the jury should have heard evidence that Cosby had given women qualifications in the past.
Second, the court will consider Cosby’s argument that he had reached an agreement with a former prosecutor that he would never be charged in the case. Cosby stated that he relied on this agreement before agreeing to testify in the accuser’s civil trial.
These problems have been at the heart of the case since Cosby was charged in December 2015, a few days before the expiration of the 12-year prescription period. Montgomery County prosecutors reopened that year after the Associated Press fought to unseal portions of Cosby’s 10-year testimony in the Andrea Constand sexual assault and defamation trial against Cosby, which he settled in 2006.
Dozens of other accusers have come forward since then to accuse Cosby, long loved by “America’s Dad” because of his hit 80s sitcom, of a similar fault. Montgomery County judge Stephen O’Neill only allowed one of them to testify at Cosby’s first trial in 2017, which ended in an acquittal.
But a year later, after the explosion of the #MeToo movement following a report on the Hollywood magnate Harvey Weinstein, the judge authorized five other accusers to testify at the new trial. The jury found Cosby guilty of the three counts of serious sexual assault.
Counsel Brian W. Perry argued in the appeal that allowing other accusers to testify “overturned constitutional jurisprudence and that the” presumption of guilt “, rather than the presumption of innocence, became the premise”.
Spokesman Andrew Wyatt said Cosby was “extremely grateful” for the court to hear the case. He said the move came as protesters across the country protested the death of blacks at the hands of the police and denounced “corruption in the criminal justice system”.
“As we all have said, Bill Cosby’s false conviction is so much bigger than he is – it is the destruction of ALL blacks and people of color in America,” Wyatt said in a statement.
Cosby’s lawyers also challenged his classification as a sexually abusive predator under lifetime surveillance. The actor, who insists he had a consensual meeting with accuser Constand, said he would never express remorse at the Parole Board.
The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they have been sexually assaulted without their permission, which Constand has granted.
Source: AP News