By Stacy Brown
The clock is ticking for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court as the panel prepares to render a decision on the fate of Bill Cosby.
May 1 marked exactly five months since Cosby’s lawyers and prosecutors argued before the high court, with the comedian seeking to vacate his 3-to-10-year prison sentence after being convicted in 2018 on charges of indecent aggravated assault.
Failing the court vacating the conviction, Cosby and his lawyers still want a new trial, arguing that trial Judge Steven O’Neill erred when he allowed at least five hearsay witnesses to testify against him about decades-old encounters.
While prosecutors claim Cosby received a fair trial, the actor’s team also complained that a previous agreement with the district attorney’s office should have been honored.
Former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor has repeatedly acknowledged that he indeed cut a deal with Cosby in 2006. According to Castor, he promised Cosby that if he sat for a deposition in a civil suit filed against him by former Temple University employee Andrea Constand, the testimony could never be used in a criminal proceeding.
Current District Attorney Kevin Steele ignored the agreement and used portions of the deposition to prosecute Cosby.
“What they are doing to Bill Cosby is wrong. It’s not justice,” Castor told the Black Press in 2018.
During the Supreme Court hearing in December, the justices appeared unimpressed with the prosecution’s explanation for using the deposition. They also signaled their dissatisfaction with O’Neill allowing the hearsay witnesses.
“I tend to agree this evidence was extraordinarily prejudicial to your client,” Justice Max Baer told Cosby attorney Jennifer Bonjean during the hearing.
“A defendant must be tried for what he did and not who he is,” Bonjean argued. “He had no shot. The presumption of innocence just didn’t exist for him at that point.”
Prosecutor Adrienne Jappe argued that the hearsay testimony showed a typical pattern, claiming Cosby befriended and isolated women and then drugged them to have sex with them.
During the trial, Constand, the lone accuser in the case, said the two never had intercourse.
She admitted to some forms of intimacy but claimed she was “unconscious” when Cosby put his hands inside her pants during their last intimate encounter.
Justice Christine Donohue told Jappe, “Frankly, I don’t see it.” Chief Justice Thomas Saylor and Justice Kevin Dougherty also expressed being troubled by the hearsay testimony.
Cosby’s longtime spokesman Andrew Wyatt told the Black Press that his client has remained steadfast that his relationship with Constand was consensual.
He also said Cosby maintains that he has never drugged and assaulted anyone.
“That’s just not true,” Wyatt said.