Justice or blow to #MeToo?

Cosby’s release invoking strong reactions in L.A., nation

Staff and Wire Reports

LOS ANGELES — Local attorneys were quick to criticize the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court June 30 that overturned the sexual assault conviction against entertainer Bill Cosby, but others were quick to voice support for the entertainer who was released from prison three years into a 10-year prison sentence.

Local attorney Areva Martin took to Twitter to express her opinion about the decision.

“The legal case against #BillCosby may have been unfair according to the Penn Supreme Court but nothing in the court’s order changes the facts — a jury found him guilty of sexual assault and more than 50 other women have had the courage to tell their stories of assault,” Martin tweeted.

“#BillCosby insults Black women by saying his release is justice for Black America,” Martin added. “Black women are part of Black America and are more likely to be the victims of sexual assault. Black women want to be treated fairly and with dignity by all men, including Black men.

“The brave women that have told their stories of sexual assault should not feel as if it were in vain. Nothing in the distorted opinion of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court cast doubt on Cosby’s accuser. Women still have a voice.”

Noted women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred also commented on the decision in a statement, “This decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to overturn the conviction of Bill Cosby must be devastating for his accusers. My heart goes out to those who bravely testified in the criminal case.”

Cosby, 83, was released from prison after the Pennsylvania court ruled that he was “denied due process” in the 2018 trial that resulted in convictions on three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in his home in 2004.

Cosby denied the accusations, but more than 30 women had come forward with similar complaints since Constand went public with her allegations.

When Cosby returned to his home in Elkins Park, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb, a small group of protesters gathered outside objecting to his release from prison.

The court cited a legal technicality involving the previous district attorney in Pennsylvania’s Montgomery County as the basis for Cosby’s release.

Bruce Castor, the initial district attorney prosecuting Constand’s case, reportedly made a formal agreement with Cosby and his lawyers in 2004 to give Cosby immunity from further prosecution in exchange for his deposition in Constand’s civil lawsuit against him.

Much of Cosby’s deposition in 2004 was used as evidence in the 2018 trial spearheaded by a new district attorney. The eight-member court ruled that the deposition, which led to Cosby’s conviction, violated his due process and terms of the agreement he had with Castor.

Cosby was freed after serving approximately two and a half years of his 10-year sentence. Though Cosby’s release generated concerns, he received support from veteran actress Phylicia Rashad, who played his longtime wife on the iconic sitcom “The Cosby Show.”

“Finally, a terrible wrong is being righted and a miscarriage of justice is being corrected,” Rashad wrote on her Twitter page.

Later, Rashad added, “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.”

The Pennsylvania State Supreme Court’s ruling also places Cosby under a statute of limitations for previous charges. According to the court, Cosby cannot be charged again for previous complaints.

Allred said she intends to still “go after” Cosby in a civil case on behalf of Judith Huth, who claimed Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her at the Los Angeles Playboy Mansion when she was 16.

Allred, who has represented 33 women accusing Cosby of sexual misconduct, said she intends to file motions for a civil case in Los Angeles County for a trial in Santa Monica. Allred said she hopes to begin proceedings in August.

“Now that the decision has been made (releasing Cosby), we’ll be returning to court to get a trial date,” Allred told CNN. “We held off depending on the criminal case. Now that the case will no longer proceed, we’re going to civil court.”

Cosby had vowed to serve all 10 years of his sentence rather than acknowledge any remorse over the encounter with Constand.

Local attorney Lisa Bloom, who represented three Cosby accusers, including supermodel Janice Dickinson, said her clients were “disgusted” by his release, and the news was “a kick in the gut to victims and their advocates.”

In a statement, Bloom — who is Allred’s daughter — said that having litigated Dickinson’s lawsuit against Cosby “for four long years, up to the Supreme Court and back again, it is appalling what money can still buy in the criminal justice system.”

I prepared Janice and watched her and the other supremely brave accusers testify that they were drugged and raped in his 2018 criminal trial,” Bloom said. “That trial resulted in only the smallest measure of justice against this man, accused by more than 60 women. And now that justice is taken away. It’s a punch in the gut to the victims.”

Contributing Writer Ray Richardson and City News Service contributed to this story.