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Bill Cosby released from prison: timeline of arrest, trial, and conviction

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Bill Cosby released from prison after Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his 2018 sexual assault conviction, see timeline of his arrest, trial and conviction.

Legendary comedian and actor, Bill Cosby may have been away from the entertainment industry for a while due to his legal battles, but the drama itself has been nothing short of a full-blown production; the latest instalment of it being the overturning of the 2018 sexual assault conviction.

Cosby was found guilty on three counts of aggravated assault that sprang from the 2004 incident at his Cheltenham, Pa., mansion with Andrea Constand, a former Temple University women’s basketball staffer, whom he allegedly initiated sexual contact after giving her wine and drugs. His trial came on the back of the resurgence of many sexual misconduct accusations in 2014 and 2015, partially ignited by comedian Hannibal Buress’ comments.

The entertainment world was inadvertently split two ways, with one side condemning his disgraceful behaviour and another showing leniency because his legacy should be protected.

However, Bill Cosby has maintained that he was innocent, and seemed unfazed by the legal proceedings. He notably betrayed no emotion when he was sentenced to between 3-10 years in state prison in September 2018.

Bill Cosby was released from prison on Wednesday, 30 June 2021 after the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania overturned his 2018 sexual assault conviction. We will now do a quick rundown of the scandal, from when it all began through the most recent conviction overturning.

Timeline of Bill Cosby’s sexual assault case

Bill meets Constand (2001)

Andrea Constand resumes work at Temple University as director of operations for the women’s basketball team. She meets Bill, who is an alumnus of the school. They become friends, and she takes him as a mentor.

Bill Cosby released from prison: timeline of arrest, trial, and conviction - Andrea Constand
A young Andrea Constand

The alleged assault (2004)

Constand visits Cosby at home in January 2004, and there, he allegedly drugged her and assaulted her while she was unconscious.

Constand reports assault (2005)

In January 2005, a year after the incident, Constand makes an official report at the Cheltenham Township police. In February, Bruce L. Castor Jr., the Montgomery County district attorney at the time, declares there’s insufficient evidence to file criminal charges against Cosby. In March, Constand goes on to sue Bill Cosby in a Philadelphia federal court.

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Bill Cosby and Constand settle out of court (2006)

Cosby and Constand settle out of court for an undisclosed amount. Both parties were also bound by the settlement to a confidentiality agreement.

Resurgence (2014)

Comedian Hannibal Buress declares Bill Cosby a rapist during a stand-up comedy event in Philadelphia in October 2014. Videos of this unsurprisingly go viral and quickly leads to Cosby cancelling his shows, and companies cutting ties with him. Especially NBC, who cancelled a show that was already in development. Netflix also discontinued all relations with Bill. By December, Bill himself stepped down from the board of trustees of Temple University.

More victims speak up (2015)

Several women come out to speak their truth about being assaulted by Bill Cosby. The majority of allegations were, however, over ten years old at the time. Cosby’s lawyers deny all allegations. In July, a federal judge in Philadelphia unseals some parts of Cosby’s deposition from the 2005 case where he admitted to obtaining sedatives to give to women before sex. Simultaneously, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman reopens the criminal probe into Constand’s claim.

In August, Constand is re-interviewed by investigators in Toronto about the assault. By December of 2015, the Montgomery County district attorney declares a charge of felony and indecent assault against Cosby, a crime carrying a maximum penalty of up to a decade in prison. Cosby’s legal team promise to battle the charge vigorously, declaring he will be exonerated after all.

Pre-trial (2016 to 2017)

3 February 2016, Cosby’s motion to dismiss his sex assault case is rejected by a Montgomery County judge. The judge ruled that a promise from the county’s former district attorney (which was made public by Cosby in January) was not legally binding and couldn’t stop prosecutors from charging him.

In October 2016, a superior court rejects Cosby’s attempt to stop proceedings because prosecutors relied on statements Constand gave police instead of calling her to testify at the May preliminary hearing.

On 5 December 2016, a judge rules that prosecutors can tell jurors about the weighty decade-old testimony where Cosby admitted to giving drugs to women he wanted to seduce.

In February 2017, a judge rules that prosecutors can call only one additional accuser to testify at Cosby’s trial. This judgment was a major legal triumph for Cosby. A judge also rules that that Cosby’s trial will be held in Norristown, but jurors will be selected from elsewhere.

On 24 May 2017, jury selection is completed in Pittsburgh with seven men and five women selected. The jury is coming from western Pennsylvania because Cosby’s lawyers successfully argued that pretrial publicity made it more difficult to find a fair and impartial jury in Montgomery County.

First trial starts (June 2017)

5 June 2017, Cosby’s trial commences in Norristown. Kelly Johnson, an assistant for Cosby’s agent, testifies that he drugged and sexually assaulted her in a Los Angeles hotel room 20 years ago. Johnson is the only one permitted to testify at trial among over 60 women who accused Cosby.

The next day, Constand speaks publicly for the first time, describing the alleged 2004 assault. She says the three blue pills Cosby gave her made her dizzy and powerless to react. Cosby’s lawyers point out inconsistencies in her account.

On 7 June 2017, defence lawyers resume questioning Constand. She stands firm on her allegations. Constand’s mother also testifies, saying her daughter had nightmares after the alleged attack and that she called Cosby to confront him after she learnt about the issue a year later.

Bill Cosby released from prison: timeline of arrest, trial, and conviction

Cosby during court proceedingsThe following day, Cosby’s description in a 2005 deposition of the night Constand says he drugged and sexually assaulted her is read out loud in court. A detective, who investigated Constand’s claims in 2005, says that he and other investigators were caught off guard when Castor (former county attorney) abruptly shut down the probe.

On 9 June, the prosecution closes its case by having the jurors listen to excerpts from Cosby’s deposition, where he admitted to obtaining potent sedatives to give to women he hoped to have sexual encounters with.

12 June, the defence rests its case. Lawyers on both sides present their closing arguments. The jury begins deliberations after Judge Steven T. O’Neill instructs them on the law in the case.

On 17 June, after the jury failed to reach a verdict, the sexual assault trial of Cosby ends in a mistrial.

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Second trial begins (April 2018)

1 April 2018, Cosby’s retrial on sexual assault begins. On 4 April, the panel charged with deciding Cosby’s fate concludes, while lawyers complete a three-day search for 12 Montgomery County residents who had yet to make up their minds about the case.

Bill Cosby released from prison: timeline of arrest, trial, and conviction
Bill Cosby during trial

On April 26 2018, Cosby is found guilty on all three counts of sexually assaulting Constand in 2004.

Cosby was recommended to be declared a “sexually violent predator” by a Pennsylvania board — a classification that would require him to not only register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, but also to undergo treatment.

25 September 2018, Bill Cosby is finally sentenced to 3-10 years in prison after a 3-year long legal battle.

Bill Cosby released from prison: timeline of arrest, trial, and conviction
Jubilant Andrea Constand after Bill’s sentencing

Defence’s appeal (Dec. 2018 to Dec. 2020)

Bill Cosby’s lawyers strategise for their appeal of his case. They alleged that issues ranging from a biased juror to the testimony of five additional accusers denied him the right to a fair trial.

In November 2019, Cosby tells the press that he has no intention to express remorse to gain early release on his sentence.

In December, an appellate court upholds Cosby’s guilty verdict, temporarily killing the hopes of getting it overturned.

1 December 2020, there is a glimmer hope for Cosby as Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court justices express scepticism over the fairness of his trial, considering the possibility that the testimony from five women who alleged he assaulted them decades ago had unduly influenced the jury against him.

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Conviction ruling overturned, Bill Cosby released (June 2021)

On 28 May 2021, Cosby’s petition for release is denied by the Pennsylvania Parole Board. They cited his refusal to participate in court-mandated therapy for sexually violent predators.

On 30 June 2021, Cosby is discharged and released after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturns the sexual assault conviction.

Cosby received by family upon his release
Cosby after his release

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