Court Battles

Bill Cosby asks Supreme Court to deny appeal in sexual assault case

Lawyers for Bill Cosby asked the Supreme Court on Monday to turn away an appeal brought by a Pennsylvania prosecutor after the state’s top court overturned the comedian’s sexual assault conviction.

In court papers, Cosby argued that the justices should decline to review the ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last June that led to Cosby’s release from prison.

“The narrowly tailored decision of the Cosby court is not at odds with any other case and is so factually unique that it fails to present any question that is likely to arise in the future with any regularity,” Cosby’s lawyers wrote in a 19-page filing.

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.

That ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court in November by the district attorney for Montgomery County, Pa., whose office played a central role in Cosby’s sexual assault case.

The current dispute 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.”

Kevin Steele, the current district attorney for Montgomery County, in his petition for appeal told the Supreme Court that Castor’s determination not to prosecute Cosby 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,” Steele said. “The U.S. Supreme Court can right what we believe is a grievous wrong.”

Tags Bill Cosby Bill Cosby sexual assault cases Supreme Court

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