A Pennsylvania district attorney whose office played a central role in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault case asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the ruling that overturned the comedian’s conviction.
The request, filed last week by Kevin Steele, the district attorney for Montgomery County, Pa., asks the justices to weigh a ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last June that led to Cosby’s release from prison.
Pennsylvania’s top court ruled 4-3 that the evidence used to secure Cosby’s 2018 conviction violated his due process rights after prosecutors subjected Cosby to what the court said effectively amounted to a bait-and-switch.
The case traces back to a 2005 determination by then-Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor that there was insufficient evidence to convict Cosby for the assault. Castor then promised not to charge Cosby if the comedian agreed to testify in a civil suit brought by his alleged victim, Andrea Constand.
But Castor’s successor as district attorney, Risa Vetri Ferman, declined to honor the agreement. Instead, Ferman filed charges against Cosby — and used Cosby’s own testimony against him to help secure a guilty verdict.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, by a bare majority, ruled that denying Cosby, 84, the benefit of Castor’s non-prosecution decision would be “an affront to fundamental fairness.”
But Steele said that decision deserves scrutiny by the U.S. Supreme Court. He said Castor’s determination not to prosecute Cosby, which was announced in a press release, should not carry the legal equivalent of creating “immunity” for defendants.
“This decision as it stands will have far-reaching negative consequences beyond Montgomery County and Pennsylvania. The U.S. Supreme Court can right what we believe is a grievous wrong,” Steele said in a press release announcing the petition to the justices.