A panel of Pennsylvania State Supreme Court judges ruled that there was a “vast” violation of Bill Cosby’s due process rights when he was criminally charged and convicted, a decade after a previous prosecutor had declined to prosecute him in order to urge him to sit for a civil deposition instead – which was ultimately used against him in his criminal trial.
The panel of judges say in their opinion released Wednesday that when former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor investigated allegations of drugging and rape against Bill Cosby by a woman named Andrea Constand in 2005, Castor felt that “he would not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Cosby drugged and raped Constand.”
“Seeking ‘some measure of justice’ for Constand, D.A. Castor decided that the Commonwealth would decline to prosecute Cosby for the incident involving Constand, thereby allowing Cosby to be forced to testify in a subsequent civil action, under penalty of perjury, without the benefit of his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination,” the judges wrote.
That civil deposition that Cosby ultimately sat for was later revealed in 2014, and one of Castor’s successor’s later used statements he made there as part of Cosby’s criminal trial.
“In light of these circumstances, the subsequent decision by successor D.A.s to prosecute Cosby violated Cosby’s due process rights,” the judges wrote.
The judges weighed different remedies – including having another trial for Cosby – but felt there was only one remedy that could serve as a proper remedy.
“He must be discharged, and any future prosecution on these particular charges must be barred. We do not dispute that this remedy is both severe and rare. But it is warranted here, indeed compelled,” they wrote.