Bill Cosby accuser Andrea Constand speaks out on court decision

Andrea Constand, main accuser in the Bill Cosby trial, leaves courtroom A after testifying in the Bill Cosby sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse, Wednesday, April 25, 2018, in Norristown, Pa. (AP Photo/Corey Perrine, Pool)

Constand has issued a statement (Picture: AP)

Andrea Constand, the woman whose accusations against Bill Cosby put the actor behind bars, has called the decision to overturn his sexual assault conviction ‘disappointing’.

Cosby, 83, had been incarcerated since 2018, having been sentenced to up to 10 years after being found guilty on three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has now ruled that a non-prosecution deal his lawyers had struck with a previous district attorney in 2005 should have shielded him from charges, and the star has been released from prison, with his convictions and judgement vacated.

Constand accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her in his home in 2004, and testified during trial, along with five other women, that the star engaged in a similar pattern of behaviour with others.

A shared statement from Constand and her attorneys Dolores Troiani and Bebe Kivitz read: ‘Today’s majority decision regarding Bill Cosby is not only disappointing but of concern in that it may discourage those who seek justice for sexual assault in the criminal justice system from reporting or participating in the prosecution of the assailant or may force a victim to choose between filing either a criminal or civil action.

‘On one hand, the Court acknowledged that the former District Attorney’s decision not to prosecute Mr Cosby was not a formal immunity agreement and constituted at best a unilateral exercise of prosecutorial discretion not to prosecute at the time.

‘The Court also acknowledged that it agreed with the lower court’s credibility determinations, but nevertheless precluded a future prosecution, which included additional evidence developed in the civil case. The Supreme Court acknowledged that it was bound by the lower court’s credibility findings, including that Andrea Constand and her civil counsel, Dolores Troiani and Bebe Kivitz, were not privy to any discussions between the former prosecutor and Mr Cosby or his then criminal counsel, let alone signatories to any agreement of any kind.

‘We were not consulted or asked our thoughts by Mr Castor concerning any agreements concerning immunity or anything, and we were not made aware if there were any such discussions. The press release had no meaning or significance to us in 2005 other than being a press release circulated by the then District Attorney.

‘Once again, we remain grateful to those women who came forward to tell their stories, to DA Kevin Steele and the excellent prosecutors who achieve a conviction at trial, despite the ultimate outcome which resulted from a procedural technicality, and we urge all victims to have their voices heard.’

Bill Cosby gestures outside his home in Elkins Park, Pa., Wednesday, June 30, 2021, after being released from prison. Pennsylvania's highest court has overturned comedian Cosby's sex assault conviction. The court said Wednesday, that they found an agreement with a previous prosecutor prevented him from being charged in the case. The 83-year-old Cosby had served more than two years at the state prison near Philadelphia and was released.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Cosby has been released (Picture: AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Constand had initially brought her accusations to then-Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. in 2005, but Castor declined to bring criminal charges, saying he didn’t feel he had enough evidence to win a criminal case.

He suggested to Constand that she take a civil case against Cosby, and Castor came to an agreement with Cosby that if he sat for a deposition in the civil case, he would be immune from prosecution in the case.

Cosby settled the civil suit with Constand for $3.38 million (£2.3m).

However, Castor’s successor Kevin Steele filed charges against Cosby in 2015, arresting him days before the statute of limitations expired.

A testimony given by Cosby in his deposition in the civil suit, in which he admitted that he gave quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with, was used against Cosby in the criminal trial.

Cosby was released from prison on Wednesday, and has returned home.

He tweeted: ‘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.’ 

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