Bill Cosby has taken to social media to make his first statement after being released from prison. In a stunning reversal on Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Cosby’s sexual assault conviction, and he was allowed to walk free just hours later.
“I have never changed my stance nor my story. I have always maintained my innocence,” Cosby wrote on Twitter, alongside a photo of himself with his fist raised. “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
During a 2018 retrial, the former actor and comedian was convicted of raping Andrea Constand in 2004 at his Philadelphia home. At Cosby’s first trial, in 2017, a judge allowed only one other accuser to testify, and the jury was unable to reach a verdict. But at his retrial, five other accusers were allowed to testify and he was ultimately sentenced to three to 10 years in prison. However, on Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed that decision on the grounds that the testimony at the trial was tainted and could be considered an attack on Cosby’s character, despite a lower court also finding that Cosby had demonstrated a pattern of drugging and molesting women.
“The collective weight of these considerations led D.A. Castor to conclude that, unless Cosby confessed, there was insufficient credible and admissible evidence upon which any charge against Mr. Cosby related to the Constand incident could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” the decision reads.
CBS News’ Jericka Duncan spoke with Cosby off-camera at his Philadelphia home, and described her interaction with him.
“We asked if there was an opportunity to speak to Cosby personally. His publicist walked me into the home. I walked into the first floor, the kitchen area, there were two people standing by. One person said Cosby wanted pizza for dinner tonight. The publicist then went upstairs, and I guess asked Bill Cosby if we could up and talk to him,” Duncan said. “We were upstairs, in his bedroom, for about five minutes or so. He was wrapping up a conversation with someone, he seemed very excited, obviously, to be home, very comfortable. His takeaway was he was glad that he had his freedom and that this sends a message around the world. I know he just tweeted a very similar message but that was he focused on during that very short five minutes with him today.”
EXCLUSIVE: Bill Cosby says his overturned sexual assault conviction sends a message around the world, @Jerickaduncan reports after she spoke with Cosby inside his home following his release from prison. pic.twitter.com/nVxJ7JYaAK
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) June 30, 2021
Following news of Cosby’s release, many in Hollywood expressed their dismay at the decision reversal.
Debra Messing tweeted, ““To every woman who was sexual assaulted by Bill Cosby my heart hurts for you today and I am full fury. It’s horrifying,” while Rose McGowan wrote, “I stand with all of Bill Cosby’s accusers on this dark day.”
However, Cosby’s former TV wife, Phylicia Rashad, spoke out in favor of Cosby’s release, originally writing on Twitter: “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”
Following backlash, Rashad issued a new statement, writing, “I fully support survivors of sexual assault coming forward. My post was in no way intended to be insensitive to their truth. Personally, I know from friends and family that such abuse has lifelong residual effects. My heartfelt wish is for healing.”