Bill Cosby Loses Sexual Assault Conviction Appeal

Bill Cosby arrives for his sentencing
Matt Rourke/AP/REX/Shutterstock

UPDATED: A Pennsylvania court denied Bill Cosby’s appeal of his sex assault conviction on Tuesday, leaving in place a three to 10 year prison sentence.

Cosby was convicted in April 2018 of sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004.

Cosby’s attorneys argued that the verdict should be overturned on several grounds. Among the arguments was a claim that the trial court should not have allowed five other women to testify to about their own allegations against the comedian. Cosby’s attorneys argued that such “prior bad acts” were too dissimilar to Constand’s allegation to be admissible. But the three-judge appellate panel rejected that claim.

“Here, the PBA evidence established Appellant’s unique sexual assault playbook,” the court held. “Indeed, not only did the PBA evidence tend to establish a predictable pattern of criminal sexual behavior unique to Appellant, it simultaneously tended to undermine any claim that Appellant was unaware of or mistaken about Victim’s failure to consent to the sexual contact that formed the basis of the aggravated indecent assault charges.”

Cosby’s attorneys also argued that the trial judge, Steven O’Neill, harbored a bias against Bruce Castor, the former Montgomery County district attorney who refused to prosecute Cosby in 2005, and should have disclosed the issue and recused himself. O’Neill has denied having a bias against Castor.

The appellate panel held that Cosby waived the claim by waiting more than five months to raise it. The defense first learned of the conflict in March 2018, but did not raise it until just before sentencing in September.

Cosby’s side also argued that the district attorney’s office should have been bound by Castor’s pledge not to prosecute the comedian. The appeals court also rejected that argument, saying that no written non-prosecution agreement exists, and that Castor did not have the power to unilaterally immunize Cosby in any case.

“Even assuming Mr. Castor promised not to prosecute Appellant, only a court order can convey such immunity,” the panel ruled.

The panel also rejected Cosby’s argument that the trial court should not have allowed the jury to hear about Cosby’s civil deposition.

Cosby’s wife, Camille, later issued a statement called for a “purge” of the criminal justice system in Pennsylvania.

“When are we, the people of the United States of America, going to end the acceptance of overall corruptions?” she asked. “I can assure you that our personal battle against clear, racist, incestuous vindictiveness, within the Pennsylvania criminal justice systems, is not over. Reform is a soft word; the action word, ‘purging,’ is what needs to be done.”