Bill Cosby released from prison after conviction overturned

By Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 0200 GMT (1000 HKT) July 1, 2021
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3:00 p.m. ET, June 30, 2021

Cosby has been released from prison, official says

From CNN's Mark Morales

Bill Cosby arrives at the Montgomery County courthouse in 2018.
Bill Cosby arrives at the Montgomery County courthouse in 2018. Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

Bill Cosby “has been released” from prison, according to Pennsylvania Department of Corrections spokesperson Maria Bevins.

Earlier today, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania vacated his 2018 conviction on sexual assault charges and judgment of sentence.

He had been sentenced to 10 years in a state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home 14 years ago.

2:53 p.m. ET, June 30, 2021

Attorney who represented many Bill Cosby accusers says court decision is "devastating"

From CNN’s Sonia Moghe

Attorney Gloria Allred, center, walks out of the courtroom at Montgomery County courthouse during Bill Cosby's trial in 2017.
Attorney Gloria Allred, center, walks out of the courtroom at Montgomery County courthouse during Bill Cosby's trial in 2017. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Pool/AP

Attorney Gloria Allred, who represented many of the women who have accused Bill Cosby of misconduct, says today’s court decision to release Cosby is “devastating” for the accusers.

“My heart especially goes out to those who bravely testified in both of his criminal cases,” Allred said in a statement. “Despite the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision, this was an important fight for justice and even though the court overturned the conviction on technical grounds, it did not vindicate Bill Cosby’s conduct and should not be interpreted as a statement or a finding that he did not engage in the acts of which he has been accused.”

2:35 p.m. ET, June 30, 2021

White House press secretary stresses Biden support for sexual assault survivors after Cosby decision

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

White House press secretary Jen Psaki looks on during a press briefing on June 30.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki looks on during a press briefing on June 30. Susan Walsh/AP

The White House did not have a “direct response” on Wednesday to the news that Bill Cosby would be released from prison, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, but she stressed the administration’s support for survivors of sexual assault.

“I'll just use the opportunity to reiterate that the President has long been an advocate for fighting against violence against women, for ensuring that we are raising the voices and the stories of people who have been survivors of sexual assault,” Psaki said. “That's something he has done throughout his career and will continue to do.”

She added she didn’t “have a specific comment on that announcement today,” but added that if the White House releases a statement it could come later Wednesday.  

Asked by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins about the kind of message the vacated conviction sends – particularly given it was related to a judge’s decision, and not necessarily whether Cosby committed those crimes – Psaki said she didn’t want to comment on a specific decision.

“I just want to be careful about not speaking to a specific decision by a court,” Psaki said, “but I can say, broadly speaking, as I tried to do earlier, obviously the President is somebody who has fought for advocated for elevating the voices and stories of women who are survivors of sexual assault, sexual abuse, and certainly knows that's a difficult journey for many of them.”

She added that Biden, “believes that these women are courageous, they're brave, and he wants it to be an environment wants us to live in a country where they were women will feel comfortable moving forward and telling their story.”

Psaki also reiterated that if there’s a specific response from the White House it would come after the press briefing.

2:30 p.m. ET, June 30, 2021

What to know about Bill Cosby's case

Bill Cosby, right, walks through the Montgomery County courthouse in 2018.
Bill Cosby, right, walks through the Montgomery County courthouse in 2018. Dominick Reuter/Pool/Getty Images

Bill Cosby will be released from prison as soon as today after the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania vacated his 2018 conviction on sexual assault charges and judgment of sentence, according to a courts spokesperson.

A jury had found Cosby guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee, at his home in a Philadelphia suburb in 2004.

Here's everything you need to know about Cosby's case:

There were two trials: At Cosby's first criminal trial, which ended in a hung jury, defense attorneys tried to poke holes in Constand’s version of events and argued that the two had a consensual sexual relationship. At his second trial, Cosby faced the testimony of five other women who claimed similar misconduct by him.

The verdict: The jury worked for more than 14 hours over two days to reach the guilty verdict. “We are so happy that finally we can say, women are believed. And not only on #MeToo but in a court of law where they are under oath, where they testified truthfully, where they are attacked,” Attorney Gloria Allred, who represented many of the women who accused Cosby of misconduct, said.

Following the verdict: Cosby did not audibly react to the guilty verdict, but he did erupt shortly afterword. Prosecutors asked the judge to revoke Cosby's bail, saying he was a flight risk and had a private plane. Cosby then stood up and yelled, “He doesn’t have a plane, you asshole.” Moreover, after Cosby was found guilty, many universities revoked his honorary degrees, such Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

The sentence: Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in a state prison. He was ordered to pay a fine of $25,000 plus the costs of prosecution as part of the sentence. In addition, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Judge Steven O’Neill ruled that Cosby would be classified as a “sexually violent predator,” a determination that requires lifetime registration, lifetime mandatory sex offender counseling with a treatment provider and notification to the community that a “sexually violent predator” lives in the area.

Parole: In May 2021, Cosby was denied parole by the Pennsylvania Parole Board. The board cited Cosby's "failure to develop a parole release plan" and a "negative recommendation by the Department of Corrections" as factors that contributed to the decision.

CNN's Alyssa Kraus, Eric Levenson, Aaron Cooper and Steve Forrest contributed to this post.

2:22 p.m. ET, June 30, 2021

Bill Cosby accusers say they are stunned by court's decision to overturn his conviction

From CNN's Steve Forrest and Audrey Irving 

Bill Cosby accuser Victoria Valentino expressed outraged Wednesday after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided to overturn his conviction.

"I am outraged! Outraged! Stunned! My stomach is in knots. The work that we have done to uplift women has been overturned by a legal glitch. We now have a serial predator on the street," Valentino said in a statement to CNN.

Another Cosby accuser Janice Baker Kinney speaking to CNN affiliate WPVI said, "it has taken me a little bit of time to absorb this..I am stunned, I am shocked and my stomach is in a knot."

2:10 p.m. ET, June 30, 2021

Cosby rep says he will head back to his Pennsylvania home after release

From CNN’s Steve Forrest

A representative for Bill Cosby said he will be released from prison Wednesday after his conviction and sentence was vacated.

Andrew Wyatt, who is at the prison currently, said Cosby will be heading back to his home in Pennsylvania.

Wyatt released a statement on behalf of the Cosby family, saying in part that “charges should never have been brought” against Cosby due to the deal that granted him immunity.

He thanked Cosby’s wife, Camille, who he said showed strength through the process. 

“I want to thank the attorneys who successfully argued his appeal and especially Mrs. Cosby who stood strong and was here for Mr. Cosby every step of the way and supported every idea and strategy from the attorneys and the team and she always knew that Mr. Cosby was innocent," the statement said.

2:03 p.m. ET, June 30, 2021

Cosby's due process rights were "violated," Pennsylvania court ruled

From CNN’s Sonia Moghe

Bill Cosby arrives at the Montgomery County courthouse for his sentencing hearing in 2018.
Bill Cosby arrives at the Montgomery County courthouse for his sentencing hearing in 2018. Matt Slocum/AP

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.

1:53 p.m. ET, June 30, 2021

Pennsylvania Department of Corrections says "Cosby will be released as soon as practical"

From CNN's Mark Morales

Bill Cosby will be released from prison after the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania vacated his 2018 conviction on sexual assault charges and judgment of sentence.

Cosby's attorney Brian Perry told CNN “we believe that he will be released from prison this afternoon.”

A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections said in a statement that they are aware of the decision.

“The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections is in receipt of today’s court decision. Work is underway to complete the necessary paperwork, and Mr. Cosby will be released as soon as practical," spokesperson Maria Bivens said in the statement to CNN.

2:07 p.m. ET, June 30, 2021

Attorney for 3 Cosby accusers: Overturning conviction is a "slap in the face to all of the victims"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Attorney Lisa Bloom pictured outside of the Montgomery County courthouse in 2018.
Attorney Lisa Bloom pictured outside of the Montgomery County courthouse in 2018. Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

Lisa Bloom, the attorney for three Bill Cosby accusers, said the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacating Cosby's conviction and judgment of sentence is "a slap in the face to all of the victims."

As Cosby could be released today, Bloom said she thinks it could be "a very hard day" for all the women who accused him of sexual assault. "I think it's going to be a re-triggering event for all of them who testified that he had drugged and raped them," she said.

"It just goes to show if you have money and power in the criminal justice system, and you can afford attorneys to fight and fight for years and years, eventually you may find a loophole and a way to get a conviction overturned. And that's what happened here," Bloom said.

"This conviction was overturned not because he's innocent, but because a prior prosecutor made a sweetheart deal with him and the court said today he could not have been prosecuted after that deal was made," Bloom said.

More than 50 women have publicly accused Cosby of raping or assaulting them over the past 40 years. In April 2018, a jury found Cosby guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault, for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in a Philadelphia suburb in 2004.