What to Know
- District Attorney Kevin R. Steele announced Monday that his office filed the “Brief for Appellee” with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the case of Commonwealth v. William Cosby.
- The brief was in response to last month’s appeal from Bill Cosby’s lawyers which claimed the jury was improperly prejudiced against him at his 2018 trial.
- Cosby, 83, is serving a three- to 10-year prison term after the jury in his 2018 sex assault trial convicted him of three counts of felony sex assault over a 2004 encounter with accuser Andrea Constand.
The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office filed a brief in response to last month’s appeal from Bill Cosby’s lawyers which claimed the jury was improperly prejudiced against him at his 2018 trial.
District Attorney Kevin R. Steele announced Monday that his office filed the “Brief for Appellee” with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the case of Commonwealth v. William Cosby. The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association (PDAA) and a coalition of groups supporting victims also filed three Amici Curiae briefs in support of the Commonwealth.
“The Commonwealth’s brief cites the famous quote from former President John Adams: ‘Facts are stubborn things and whatever may be our wishes … they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.’ Cosby and his array of lawyers and publicists have repeatedly attempted to alter the facts of the case,” Steele said.
Cosby, 83, is serving a three- to 10-year prison term after the jury in his 2018 sex assault trial convicted him of three counts of felony sex assault over a 2004 encounter with accuser Andrea Constand.
Last month’s appeals filing from Cosby’s lawyers claimed a deposition by Cosby regarding the use of Quaaludes and allegations of uncharged sexual misconduct with about a half-dozen women “was irrelevant evidence that served no legitimate non-propensity purpose.”
Cosby’s lawyers argued those incidents occurred too long ago, in some cases going back to the 1970s, and that they lacked “any striking similarities” or comparable facts to the crimes he was tried for.
A former prosecutor had declined to prosecute Cosby when she went to police in 2005. However, another prosecutor reopened the case in 2015 after The Associated Press successfully petitioned a federal judge to unseal filings in the lawsuit she filed against him, including Cosby’s deposition testimony about a string of sexual encounters with young women over the years and his admission that he had gotten Quaaludes to give women before sex.
Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O’Neill allowed one other accuser to testify for the prosecution at Cosby’s trial in 2017, when the jury deadlocked, and five when he was tried and convicted at a retrial the following year.
Cosby said he relied on prosecutors’ promises not to bring charges when he gave the deposition despite the constitutional right not to incriminate himself.
The result, defense lawyers argued, was a violation of “Cosby’s right to be tried on the crimes charged, rather than on an indictment of his entire life.”
The filing noted that Cosby’s lawyers have not turned up a previous Pennsylvania case that directly addresses whether one prosecutor can make an unwritten promise not to prosecute that their elected successor must honor.
“Fundamental fairness and principles of due process” mean that promise was binding on Montgomery County prosecutors, Cosby’s lawyers argued.
In June, Pennsylvania’s highest court agreed to review those two issues, overturning a lower court that had rejected Cosby’s appeal.
In a statement Monday, Steele said Cosby’s lawyers “thoroughly disregarded the facts and compelling evidence presented in court that a previous district attorney did not promise forever non-prosecution.”
“They have disregarded the fact that the law allows prior bad act evidence, which was properly admitted by the trial court,” Steele said. “The defense is simply grasping at that proverbial last straw by trying to alter the facts in this case—a case that demonstrated that sexual assault victims can get justice no matter how wealthy and famous the defendant.”
Cosby has been imprisoned in suburban Philadelphia for nearly two years.