**Trigger warning: this article contains references to sexual assault and misconduct that some readers may find distressing.
Disgraced actor and comedian Bill Cosby has served just three years of the three to 10-year sentence that was handed down to him in 2018, after being found guilty of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand
Cosby’s defence was able to facilitate the overturning by challenging the conviction on two fronts: the fact that the trial judge had allowed five other accusers to testify when the jury was deadlocked and the fact the prosecution had allegedly promised Cosby they would not charge him after doubting the “likelihood of a successful prosecution.” The latter, they said, resulted in Cosby incriminating himself in a subsequent civil lawsuit, the testimony from which was then presented during the criminal trial.
According to a corrections department spokesperson, he was released from a state prison in Shippack, Pennsylvania, just before 2.30 pm on Wednesday, June 30. As he arrived at his home he provided no comment to the waiting reporters but his spokesperson said that justice had been served.
“What we saw today was justice — justice for all Americans,” his spokesperson, Andrew Wyatt, said.
“Mr Cosby’s conviction being overturned is for the world and all Americans who have been treated unfairly by the judicial system.”
Constand was not the only woman to accuse Cosby of sexual misconduct – in fact, 60 women have come forward with allegations dating as far back as the 1960s, ranging from rape, drug-facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery. However, by the time the cards started to fall for Cosby in 2015, the statute of limitations had run out for many alleged victims.
In Constand’s case, she accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her in 2004 when she was a basketball coach at Temple University, where Cosby had been an involved alumnus. Cosby’s conviction coincided with the rise of the #MeToo movement, which saw many high-profile public figures exposed for harassment and abuse.
In his prime, Cosby was one of TV’s most loved figures, even earning himself the nickname “America’s Dad” thanks to his role as Dr Cliff Huxtable in The Cosby Show. The show, which ran for eight seasons, spent five consecutive seasons as the number-one-rated show on television while also breaking racial stereotypes by portraying a Black family as upper-middle-class and successful.
The sitcom paved the way for future shows that featured a predominantly Black cast such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
The Cosby Show was pulled from syndication following the accusations against Cosby coming to light.
While Cosby did not speak out as he returned to his home, he later took to his social media to provide comment.
“I have never changed my stance nor my story. I have always maintained my innocence,” Cosby wrote on Twitter. “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.”
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. #BillCosby pic.twitter.com/bxELvJWDe5
— Bill Cosby (@BillCosby) June 30, 2021
Meanwhile, sexual assault survivor Dylan Farrow, daughter of filmmaker Woody Allen, took to her own social media account to weigh in on Cosby’s conviction being overturned and shared her concern for how it will affect victims of abuse moving forward.
“For those who question myself and other survivors about the reasons and timing of coming forward, I hope that today will serve a teachable moment on empathy and why it takes years — if ever — for someone to discuss their abuse,” Farrow wrote.
“Many survivors will look at the events of today and decide it’s not worth it; that even when justice is served, it can be taken away.”
If you or someone you know has been the victim of a sexual assault, please contact the Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence National Help Line on 1800 Respect (1800 737 732) or head to The Australian Human Rights Commission for a list of state by state resources.