Can Bill Cosby be tried again? Disgraced comedian walks free as survivors relive trauma
After sexual offense-accused comedian Bill Cosby's conviction was overturned citing 'unfair trial', the 83-year-old walked free from prison, flashing the victory sign in celebration. The verdict has shocked millions across the world, including Hollywood celebrities, and definitely the 63 women who accused him of sexual assault, abuse, or misconduct between 1965 and 2008.
As Cosby was serving his sentence in State Correctional Institution Phoenix in Pennsylvania, his team of lawyers appealed against the 2019 verdict. Their argument was that the testimonies of the five accusers during trial prejudiced the jury. They also added that Cosby's own testimony of drugging women with quaaludes was self-incriminating and that he could not exercise his Fifth Amendment right. Additionally, Cosby's defense lawyers cited that the former Pennsylvania DA Bruce Castor had a 'non-prosecution agreement' with Cosby if he was deposed under oath. "The moment that Cosby was charged criminally, he was harmed," dictated the court, while ordering his immediate release.
Who is Jennifer Bonjean? Bill Cosby's lawyer says he 'served 3 years of an unjust sentence'
Bill Cosby freed from jail after sexual assault conviction is overturned: 'He got away with it'
Soon after his release, alleged survivors Andrea Constand, Janice Dickinson, Patrician Leary Steuer, Victoria Valentino, and others came forward to condemn the judgment.
Temple University women's basketball administrator Andrea Constand was allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted by Cosby at his home in 2004. It was, in fact, Constand's case that had led to his conviction in 2019, which was considered a big win for the #MeToo movement at the time. After the June 30 verdict, Constand said, "Today's majority decision regarding Bill Cosby is not only disappointing but of concern in that it may discourage those who seek justice for sexual assault in the criminal justice system from reporting or participating in the prosecution of the assailant or may force a victim to choose between filing either a criminal or civil action."
Patricia Leary Steuer, who had accused Cosby of sexually abusing her on two separate occasions, said, "There were more than 63 of us who came forward in the end. I'm wondering what the purpose was of the 43 years of this ordeal and the trauma that I had and the trauma that my family endured as a result." Janice Dickinson, who accused Cosby of drugging and raping her in 2014, expressed her anger, saying, "I felt like I was kicked in the stomach, in my abdomen, by some psychic blow."
Can Bill Cosby be tried again?
As his alleged survivors continue to battle their trauma and ordeal, many are curious whether the verdict can be appealed and if Cosby can be tried again. In simple words, the answer is no. The court documents clearly prohibited the chance of any further trial on the previous charges, stating, "He must be discharged, and any future prosecution on these particular charges must be barred.”
The verdict also indicates that Cosby would no longer be registered as a violent sex offender and can live his life as a free man. He cannot be tried again on the same charges which led to his conviction in 2019. There are, however, a few roundabout ways Cosby can face trial once again, though the chances of those are quite bleak. If another survivor comes forward with new credible accusations against him, within the statute of limitations, then there is a chance of him facing new charges. However, the statute of limitations varies from state to state in the US.
There is another chance of him being prosecuted now in a state other than Pennsylvania. According to Vanderbilt University law professor Nancy King, "Whether there was a crime that took place in another state, and that depends on how the state defines what we call 'venue'. You have to figure out where the crimes occurred, and that's where it can be prosecuted. If the crime takes place in multiple states, then there's nothing barring two states from prosecuting a defendant of the same crime."
After Cosby's recent verdict, women's rights attorney Gloria Allred who once represented 33 of his accusers, conducted a press conference. She declared there that they were now litigating a lawsuit in LA County where the accuser alleges that Cosby sexually abused her as a child at the Playboy Mansion. Even then, Allred stated that his chances of facing another trial were less. "I don't see him being tried again, even under different criminal complaints." Allred seemed stoic about the recent turn of events. "We will deal with it and we will move on. It's always one step forward, two steps back in the women's movement," Allred stated.