US comedian Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction has been overturned today by Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, paving the way for his release.
Cosby’s lawyers appealed to the court, arguing his trial was biased because it allowed past alleged sexual assaults to be presented.
Cosby, 83, has already served more than two years of a three to 10-year sentence at a state prison near Philadelphia and had been found guilty of drugging and molesting ex-basketball player Andrea Constand in 2004. Cosby is best known for starring in the 1980s TV series The Cosby Show.
“Cosby’s convictions and judgment of sentence are vacated, and he is discharged,” it was stated in the court’s 79-page finding.
He had vowed to serve all 10 years rather than acknowledge admit to the charge over the 2004 encounter with accuser Andrea Constand.
Cosby, was once the beloved “American Dad,” was charged in 2015 when a prosecutor armed with new evidence arrested him days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired.
But Pennsylvania’s highest court said that District Attorney Kevin Steele, who made the decision to arrest Cosby, was obligated to stand by his predecessor’s promise not to charge the actor after he gave potentially incriminating testimony in a civil suit brought by Ms Constand.
Justice David Wecht, writing for a split court, said Cosby had relied on the former prosecutor’s promise and that overturning the conviction, and barring any further prosecution: “is the only remedy that comports with society’s reasonable expectations of its elected prosecutors and our criminal justice system”.