Updated Jun 30, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Bill Cosby released from prison after court overturns conviction

Bill Cosby

Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

Pennsylvania's Supreme Court overturned Bill Cosby's 2018 conviction for sexual assault on Wednesday, finding that an agreement he struck to provide testimony in a civil lawsuit in 2005 and 2006 should have given him immunity in the case.

Why it matters: The 83-year-old Cosby, who was sentenced to 3–10 years in prison for drugging and molesting a woman in 2004, was released from prison just before 2:30 p.m. local time, a spokesperson from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections confirmed.

  • He has been accused of sexual misconduct or rape by more than 60 women, but none of the other allegations have resulted in criminal charges.

The other side: Cosby's lawyers have long argued that his decision to sit for a deposition in a civil lawsuit in 2005 and 2006 hinged on a promise of immunity from a district attorney at the time, and that it was, therefore, improper to have his statements used against him in a criminal trial, reports NBC News.

  • "When an unconditional charging decision is made publicly and with the intent to induce action and reliance by the defendant, and when the defendant does so to his detriment (and in some instances upon the advice of counsel), denying the defendant the benefit of that decision is an affront to fundamental fairness, particularly when it results in a criminal prosecution that was foregone for more than a decade," the Pennsylvania Supreme Court wrote in an opinion.
  • "For these reasons, Cosby’s convictions and judgment of sentence are vacated, and he is discharged."
  • Cosby will be leaving prison within hours, reports ABC News. The court also banned future prosecution on these particular charges.

The big picture: In 2018, in addition to his prison sentence, Cosby was mandated to undergo lifetime counseling, appear on a sex offender registry and report quarterly to authorities.

  • In May, Cosby was denied parole after refusing to participate in sex offender programs, per AP.
  • He has never admitted wrongdoing or expressed remorse.
Go deeper