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Bill Cosby Was Found Guilty of Sexual Assault, So Why Is He Going on Tour?

Bill Cosby following the reading of a court verdict.

On December 28, disgraced comedian and actor Bill Cosby sat down for a surprise interview on the radio show WGH Talk, and announced his hopes to go on tour in 2023. How can that be, though? Wasn’t Cosby convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to prison? Did he already serve his sentence?

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Not quite. Here’s what happened.

The Bill Cosby case, explained

Although Cosby was accused of sexual assault by approximately 60 women, only one of those accusations went to trial. Cosby was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, an employee at Temple University who worked for the women’s basketball team, and the case went to trial in 2017. However, the jury was deadlocked, resulting in a mistrial. When Cosby was tried again in 2018, he was convicted of three counts of aggravated indecent assault against Constand, in the first case to go to trial after the #MeToo movement gained momentum.

Cosby appealed the case, but his appeals were denied, and he was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison. However, he served less than three years before he was released.

Why was Bill Cosby released?

Cosby’s sentence was vacated in 2021 by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. According to the court, Cosby’s right to due process was violated because of a promise a district attorney made to him in 2005.

When Cosby gave a deposition in Constand’s civil case against him, Bruce L. Castor Jr., the DA for Montgomery County, PA, stated that he wouldn’t be filing criminal charges against Cosby. Castor was apparently concerned that if Cosby thought he’d face criminal charges for the assault, he’d invoke his fifth amendment rights to avoid testifying in the civil case.

However, another DA did decide to charge Cosby, and even used his deposition from the civil case as evidence in the trial.

In June 2021, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Cosby’s conviction on the grounds that Castor had made a binding promise not to charge Cosby. According to the court ruling, the DA office’s reversal of that promise violated Cosby’s rights.

Does that mean Cosby is innocent?

No. Both the civil and criminal trials found Cosby guilty of sexually assaulting Constand. This ruling just means that Cosby doesn’t have to serve his full prison sentence, and he can’t be prosecuted again for assaulting Constand.

When was Bill Cosby released?

Cosby was released on July 1, 2021.

(featured image: Mark Makela, Getty Images)

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Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href=""></a>

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