Bill Cosby Asks Pennsylvania Supreme Court to Take His Case, Says "#MeToo Hysteria" Denied Him Due Process

Bill Cosby Sentencing Montgomery County Courthouse - Getty - H 2018
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After two trials and multiple bids for decisions to be reconsidered, Bill Cosby is taking his criminal conviction on charges of aggravated indecent assault to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. 

The comedian wants the state's high court to consider whether his rights were violated by allowing testimony from five women whose allegations of uncharged sexual misconduct dated back decades, by including his civil deposition testimony that was only given because he was assured he wouldn't be prosecuted, by denying a hearing with examination of witnesses to an allegedly prejudicial juror and by sentencing him under the 2018 Sex Offender Registration Act. 

"Cases exist in which the outcomes were deeply influenced by public panic fueled by the nature of the allegations lodged, the media, and other special interest groups," states the filing. Such cases, Cosby argues, put the criminal justice system on a "dangerous precipice" that requires balancing the interests of reacting to serious crimes in a meaningful way with maintaining the presumption of innocence and due process. "The instant case is one that has pushed the criminal justice system of this Commonwealth, and the bedrock principles upon which it rests, to that precipice."

The comedian argues that the appellate panel that rejected his bid to overturn his conviction ignored the significance of the differences in testimony between the five prior bad acts witnesses and Andrea Constand, whom Cosby stands convicted of assaulting in 2004. He argues the testimony served no purpose other than to suggest that because there were a number of other women alleging non-consensual contact, the contact with Constand must have been non-consensual, too, thereby stripping him of his presumption of innocence. 

Cosby also says he forfeited his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by testifying in Constand's civil suit because the office of then Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor had said the comedian wouldn't be prosecuted. Whether that assurance is a binding non-prosecution agreement or merely a promise is irrelevant, Cosby argues, because "the public must be able to trust in the promises of their government, particularly where constitutional rights are at stake."

Current Montgomery County D.A. Kevin Steele charged Cosby, despite a reminder of the agreement from Castor, "amidst a surge of national attention and the 'Me Too' movement," according to the filing, which is posted in full below.

Cosby's spokesman Andrew Wyatt on Thursday issued a statement about the filing: "Today, Mr. Cosby’s legal team filed a Petition in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania asking the high court to review his case to consider the vital important questions about the impact of #MeToo hysteria on the bedrock principles of our criminal justice system. The lower courts stripped Mr. Cosby of his most sacred constitutional guarantees of Due Process and the presumption of innocence when they permitted the jury to hear, and base its verdict on, decades-old, unproven allegations of multiple women. The trial court’s overriding concern should have been to ensure a fair proceeding on the single charged offense for which Mr. Cosby was standing trial — not to provide a platform to any and all accusers who belatedly wanted their day in court. We are hopeful that the state Supreme Court will recognize the long-lasting implications of allowing the court of public opinion to override our cherished constitutional principles and act to rectify this injustice."