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Survivor Advocate Legal Opinion on Cosby Release

Survivors of sexual violence remain outraged at the decision to overturn Bill Cosby’s sentence following his 2018 conviction for three counts of aggravated indecent assault.  The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) supports survivors such as the brave women that publicly shared their story of sexual assault and was proud to join the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)’s amicus brief against Mr. Cosby’s appeal.

PCAR strongly emphasizes that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to overturn his sentence is based on a technical legal interpretation of the actions former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor took in 2005.  The justices’ decision did not call into question the credibility of the witnesses who testified against Mr. Cosby at trial. In fact, the dissenting opinion of Justice Saylor expressed that a re-trial would be the best course of action for justice.  Unfortunately, the majority opinion rules out the possibility of a re-trial.

Cosby’s serial and predatory behavior was described in graphic detail under oath by multiple women during his criminal trial.  This testimony led the jury to find him guilty on three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand.  This sworn testimony by multiple victims also resulted in Cosby being sentenced to a three to ten year sentence in a maximum security state prison.

Cosby’s release and the court’s decision that he may not be retried is based on his attorney’s claim that District Attorney Castor made a verbal-only commitment that criminal charges would not be filed against him following Ms. Constand’s report to law enforcement.  According to Cosby’s defense team, the verbal agreement led to him incriminating himself in civil court and he would not have done so otherwise.  Justice Saylor’s dissenting opinion questioned whether there was an unwritten commitment entered into at all.

Survivors of sexual violence are understandably frustrated and hurt to see an individual with so many credible claims of predatory behavior on the street and disagree with the Court’s opinion.  There is also concern that this will discourage other survivors from telling their story after seeing an individual released on a technicality.  Advocates encourage all survivors to still come forward to tell their story to hold accountable those that choose to commit abuse.

In Pennsylvania, you can find your local rape crisis center by visiting or by calling 1-888-772-7227. The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), organizes the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline which can put you in contact with your local rape crisis center in any state. You can call the Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.