ALL NEWS

Bill Cosby prosecutors ask US Supreme Court to review case

Nov 29, 2021, 2:18 PM

FILE - Bill Cosby arrives for his sentencing hearing at the Montgomery County Courthouse, Monday, S...

FILE - Bill Cosby arrives for his sentencing hearing at the Montgomery County Courthouse, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in Norristown, Pa. Prosecutors asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision that overturned Cosby’s conviction. In a petition filed Monday, Nov. 29, 2021 they wrote that courts should not equate a supposed promise made by a former prosecutor to lifetime immunity. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Prosecutors asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the ruling that overturned Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction, arguing in a petition Monday that a dangerous precedent could be set if press releases are treated as immunity agreements.

Cosby’s lawyers have long argued that he relied on a promise that he would never be charged when he gave damaging testimony in an accuser’s civil suit in 2006. The admissions were later used against him in two criminal trials.

The only written evidence of such a promise is a 2005 press release from the then-prosecutor, Bruce Castor, who said he did not have enough evidence to arrest Cosby.

The release included an ambiguous “caution” that Castor “will reconsider this decision should the need arise.” The parties have since spent years debating what that meant.

“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,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele wrote in the petition, which seeks a Supreme Court review under the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Prosecutors have also complained that the chief judge of the state’s high court appeared to misstate key facts of the case when he discussed the court ruling that overturned Cosby’s conviction in a television interview.

Castor’s successors, who gathered new evidence and arrested Cosby in 2015, say it falls far short of a lifetime immunity agreement. They also doubt that Castor ever made such a deal. Instead, they say Cosby had strategic reasons to give the deposition rather than invoke his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, even if it backfired when “he slipped up” in his rambling testimony.

However, defense lawyers say the case should never have gone to trial because of what they call a “non-prosecution agreement.”

Cosby, 84, became the first celebrity convicted of sexual assault in the #MeToo era when the jury at his 2018 retrial found him guilty of drugging and molesting college sports administrator Andrea Constand in 2004.

He spent nearly three years in prison before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court set him free in June.

Steele’s bid to revive the case is a long shot. The U.S. Supreme Court accepts fewer than 1% of the petitions it receives. Legal scholars and victim advocates will be watching closely, though, to see if the court takes an interest in a high-profile #MeToo case.

Two justices on the court, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, were accused of sexual misconduct during their bitterly fought confirmation hearings.
Appellate judges have voiced sharply different views of the Cosby case. An intermediate state court upheld the conviction. Then the seven justices on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court wrote three separate opinions on it.

The majority found that Cosby relied on the decision not to prosecute him when he admitted giving a string of young women drugs and alcohol before sexual encounters. The court stopped short of finding that there was such an agreement, but said Cosby thought there was — that reliance, they said, marred his conviction.

But prosecutors call that conclusion flawed. They note that Cosby’s lawyers objected strenuously to the deposition questions rather than let him speak freely.
Cosby himself has never testified about any agreement or promise. The only alleged participant to come forward is Castor, a political rival of Steele’s who went on to represent President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial. Castor said he made the promise to a now-dead defense lawyer for Cosby, and got nothing in return.

He never mentioned it to top assistant Risa Ferman, who led his Cosby investigation.

She later became district attorney, and reopened the case in 2015 after a federal judge unsealed Cosby’s deposition.

At a remarkable pretrial hearing in February 2016, Castor spent hours testifying for the defense. He said he typed out the press release himself, after office hours, and intended it to convey different layers of meaning to the lawyers, the press and the public.

The judge found him not credible and sent the case to trial.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in its June 30 ruling, called Cosby’s arrest “an affront to fundamental fairness.”

Weeks later, the ruling prompted the state attorney general to dismiss charges against a jail guard accused of sexually abusing female inmates, because of an earlier agreement with county prosecutors that let him resign rather than face charges.

Cosby, a groundbreaking Black actor and comedian, created the top-ranked “Cosby Show” in the 1980s. A barrage of sexual assault allegations later destroyed his image as “America’s Dad” and led to multimillion-dollar court settlements with at least eight women. But Constand’s was the only case to lead to criminal charges.

Five of them testified for the prosecution to support Constand’s claims, testimony that Cosby’s lawyers also challenged on appeal. However, the state’s high court declined to address the thorny issue of how many other accusers can testify in criminal cases before the evidence becomes unfair to the defense.

In a recent memoir, Constand called the verdict less important than the growing support for sexual assault survivors inspired by the #MeToo movement.

“The outcome of the trial seemed strangely unimportant. It was as if the world had again shifted in some much more significant way,” Constand wrote in the book, “The Moment.”
___
Follow Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Maryclairedale.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

All News

Power lines are pictured in utah, utah has lower electricity bill than other states...

Tammy Kikuchi

Study shows Utahns pay cheapest electricity bills in the country

Utah residents are paying less for power than any other state. Rocky Mountain Power says they work hard to keep it that way.

8 hours ago

Welcome to Tooele sign is pictured on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020.A Child was taken to a nearby Hospita...

Derrick Jones

Update: Child hit by a car in Tooele

TOOELE, Utah — A four year old child was hit by a car Thursday afternoon near Spencer’s Field in Tooele. According to Cpt. Colbey Bentley of Tooele City Police Department, the child was injured however is in stable condition. Life flight was originally dispatched, but on-scene medical teams determined that ground transportation to a Salt […]

8 hours ago

FILE: High winds toppled trees that had stood for decades at the Ft. Douglas Post Cemetery, damagin...

Simone Seikaly

Rocky Mountain Power preparing for potentially strong wind storm in Salt Lake

The National Weather Service said wind gusts could reach 65 miles per hour in portions of western Utah valleys on Saturday.

8 hours ago

KSL NewsRadio's Jeff Caplan sits inside a FEMA emergency transmitter....

Amanda Dickson

KSL NewsRadio’s role as “first informers” in any emergency

In the worst-case scenarios and emergencies, KSL NewsRadio will be the first to provide essential information. We're doing it alongside FEMA.

9 hours ago

Welcome to Tooele sign is pictured on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020.A Child was taken to a nearby Hospita...

Britt Johnson

Tooele Valley Airport to get some major updates

A new master plan for the Tooele Valley Airport will be shared with the public this week.

9 hours ago

FILE: Seen from an aerial view, people pass through razor wire after crossing the U.S.-Mexico borde...

ACACIA CORONADO

Judge blocks Texas law allowing police power to arrest illegal migrants

The ruling is a victory for the Justice Department. It argued that the law signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott last year was unconstitutional.

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Bill Cosby prosecutors ask US Supreme Court to review case