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State Supreme Court Will Take Up Bill Cosby’s Appeal of Sexual Assault Conviction — What to Know

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to review whether certain testimony and evidence should have been allowed at the 2018 trial that resulted in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction.

According to the Associated Press, that review will focus, in part, on the trial judge’s decision to allow “prior bad acts” witnesses to testify against Cosby in the Andrea Constand case.

In Dec. 2018, the defense said five prior “bad act witnesses” should not have been allowed to testify. The defense said that their claims were “too remote in time and too dissimilar to the Constand allegations” to be included. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s review of this aspect of the Cosby case could be significant for #MeToo cases heading forward. You may remember that the prosecution in the New York case against Harvey Weinstein also called multiple “prior bad acts” witnesses to testify. The state Supreme Court will reportedly consider as well whether evidence that Cosby gave quaaludes to women should have been heard by jurors.

The court will further review, as the AP put it, Cosby’s “argument that he had an agreement with a former prosecutor that he would never be charged in the case. Cosby has said he relied on that agreement before agreeing to testify in the trial accuser’s civil lawsuit.”

Cosby’s spokesman Andrew Wyatt reacted by saying that the “false conviction” is “so much bigger” than Cosby.

“[I]t’s about the destruction of ALL Black people and people of color in America,” he said.

The news comes almost a year to the day that Cosby described the filing of his 348-page appeal as a “delicious” development.

“This is a beautiful day and it’s delicious. You’re seeing it as it was described to me by Mrs. Cosby — a photo showing the ‘Wheels Of Justice’ delivering my appeal to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania,” Cosby said on his Instagram. “Thank you to my millions of supporters (the freedom fighters)…”

Cosby is now 82 years old.

Cosby’s long-expected appeal claimed that he was not given a fair trial because the judge in the case allowed testimony from other accusers that was not relevant. Cosby was convicted in April 2018 of sexually assaulting Andrea Constand. Cosby’s first sexual assault trial ended in mistrial because of a hung jury. The second trial began in March 29, 2018 and ended just about one month later. He has been in prison in since September, when he was sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison.

At the time, Cosby spokesman Wyatt called the appeal an “important step.”

“On this date, one of our Great American Treasures [Bill Cosby]…was finally awarded the opportunity to file his appeal with the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. This filing is an important step in ensuring that Mr. Cosby receives a hearing from a fair and impartial court. The Constitution guarantees that right to Mr. Cosby—and to all Americans—and he looks forward to securing justice in the court of appeal,” he said. Cosby’s team has made complaints of unfairness many times before.

Wyatt made waves in Feb. 2020 when reacting on social media to Weinstein’s rape and sexual assault conviction. Wyatt controversially asserted that the jury verdict in the #MeToo case was no shock because it’s what the judge wanted all along:

This is not shocking because these jurors were not sequestered, which gave them access to media coverage and the sentiments of public opinion. There’s no way you would have anyone believe that Mr. Weinstein was going to receive a fair and impartial trial. Also, this judge showed that he wanted a conviction by sending the jurors back to deliberate, after the were hung on many of the counts. Here’s the question that should haunt all Americans especially wealthy and famous men…Where do we go in this country to find fairness and impartiality in the judicial system; and where do we go in this country to find Due Process? Lastly, if the #metoo movement isn’t just about Becky [White women], I would challenge #metoo and ask them to go back 400+ years and tarnish the names of those oppressors that raped slaves. This is a very sad day in the American Judicial System.

Cosby’s wife Camille Cosby previously filed a complaint against Judge Steven O’Neill that the prosecution called a “desperate, 11th-hour” attempt to delay sentencing. Cosby filed the complaint with Pennsylvania’s Judicial Conduct Board regarding Judge O’Neill‘s alleged bias. In a statement, Camille Cosby claimed her huband was “improperly prosecuted in a trial presided over by an unethical judge [].”

The octogenarian Bill Cosby, like many other high-profile inmates, cited novel coronavirus pandemic in attempts to get out of prison. Cosby’s attempt was not successful.

[Image via Montgomery County Correctional Facility via Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.