The Supreme Court will not review the sexual assault case against Bill Cosby, leaving in place a decision by Pennsylvania’s highest court that vacated the comedian's 2018 indecent assault conviction and freed him from prison in June.
The high court on Monday declined a request from prosecutors to hear the case and reinstate the conviction.
Andrew Wyatt, a spokesperson for Bill Cosby, called the decision “a victory.”
“On behalf of Mr. & Mrs. Cosby and the Cosby family, we would like to offer our sincere gratitude to the justices of the United States Supreme Court for following the rules of law and protecting the Constitutional Rights of ALL American Citizens of these United States,” he said.
“This is truly a victory for Mr. Cosby but it shows that cheating will never get you far in life and the corruption that lies within Montgomery County District’s Attorney Office has been brought to the center stage of the world. Thank you very much,” he continued.
Cosby was convicted on three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault in 2018 of drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004.
He had served nearly three years of a three- to 10-year sentence when his conviction was tossed over a violation of his due process rights. A former Montgomery County district attorney said he would not prosecute Cosby in 2005 in return for his testimony. However, that testimony was later used against him at trial.
The prosecution of Cosby, now 84, was one of the first major milestones of the #MeToo movement, in which women came forward with claims of unwanted sexual advances and harassment in the workplace, particularly against powerful men.
When Cosby was released from prison, he tweeted a statement maintaining his innocence.
“I have never changed my stance nor my story. I have always maintained my innocence. Thank you to all my fans, supporters and friends who stood by me through this ordeal. Special thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for upholding the rule of law,” he said at the time.
Constand’s lawyers, Dolores M. Troiani and Bebe H. Kivitz, said in a statement, “This is an unfortunate outcome for everyone, especially survivors of sexual assault.”
“Not only does the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision stand to bind other courts based simply on an early press release by a prosecutor announcing a declination of prosecution at the time (before evidence to proceed is developed and vetted), but it assumes there was a valid agreement not to prosecute, which was vigorously disputed in the Habeas proceedings, and determined by the trial judge not to exist,” the statement continued.
Gloria Allred, who represented 33 Cosby accusers, said in a statement she is “not surprised” by the Supreme Court's decision.
“While many accusers will no doubt be disappointed that the decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will stand and that Cosby will not be sent back to prison in that case, they should also know that Mr. Cosby may still face other consequences in the justice system,” the attorney said, noting that a civil trial against Cosby is slated to start in May in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
That case stems from a lawsuit filed by Judy Huth, who accused Cosby of sexually assaulting her at the Playboy Mansion when she was 15 in 1974. Cosby’s lawyers previously responded to the claim as an attempt to extort him.
“Although Mr. Cosby will not testify at our civil trial, our case will still proceed and our brave client and other witnesses will testify,” Allred said. “We look forward to our client finally having her day in court and being afforded all of her rights in a California court of law. The journey to justice continues.”
Lisa Bloom, an attorney for three Cosby accusers, said in a statement, “Today’s ruling says more about our legal system’s utter inability to deliver justice to victims than it does about Bill Cosby, who has not been exonerated and never will be.”
“He was released simply because a friendly prosecutor years ago didn’t have the courage Cosby’s victims had, to prosecute him,” Bloom continued. “Courts’ decisions to uphold that promise in no way negates the excruciating truth of his many accusers’ stories, which will always be his ugly legacy.”
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele said Monday his decision to appeal was “the right thing to do, but obviously there was only a small chance that the High Court would be able to hear the case. We appreciate the Court’s consideration.”
"My appreciation also goes to Andrea Constand," Steele said. "All crime victims deserve to be heard, treated with respect and be supported through their day in court. I wish her the best as she moves forward in her life.”