The US Supreme Court will not review prosecutors' appeal to overturn Bill Cosby's sexual assault conviction, upholding a court decision that freed him from prison last year.
Cosby was released after his 2018 rape conviction was thrown out last June when Pennsylvania's Supreme Court controversially determined that an agreement he made with a district attorney years prior should have prevented the charges against him from ever being filed.
The state court ruled that Cosby's constitutional rights had been violated because incriminating testimony — which Cosby provided for a civil lawsuit against him — had been used against him about 10 years later in criminal prosecution regarding the same incident. During the civil suit, the then-district attorney for Montgomery County, Bruce Castor, had promised that Cosby would not face prosecution over his statements in the case.
In 2018, Cosby was found guilty of sexual assault for drugging and raping Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. He was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison and required to register as a sexual predator for life.
The conviction was a stunning milestone in the #MeToo movement, with Cosby — who has been accused of drugging and assaulting more than 60 women — becoming the first major celebrity to be convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to prison time.
The reversal of the sentencing was almost as momentous. Castor stated that he intended to block local prosecutors from bringing future charges against Cosby, but did so without Constand's consent. He also did not negotiate a formal immunity agreement with Cosby, which is protocol. When the court announced the reversal of the charges in June, it acknowledged the situation was nearly unprecedented.
In a statement on Monday, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele thanked the US Supreme Court for considering the case, and said he accepted its decision.
“Petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court for review was the right thing to do, but obviously there was only a small chance that the High Court would be able to hear the case," Steele said. "We appreciate the Court’s consideration."
"My appreciation also goes to Andrea Constand," Steele added. "All crime victims deserve to be heard, treated with respect and be supported through their day in court. I wish her the best as she moves forward in her life.”
The Pennsylvania court decision in June did not proclaim Cosby's innocence, but in a statement on Twitter following his release, the disgraced comedian implied this was the reason.
“I have never changed my stance nor my story. I have always maintained my innocence,” Cosby wrote. “Thank you to all my fans, supporters and friends who stood by me through this ordeal. Special thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for upholding the rule of law.”
In a statement on Monday's ruling, Cosby's lawyer, Andrew Wyatt, thanked the Supreme Court for declining to reexamine the case.
“On behalf of Mr. & Mrs. Cosby and the Cosby family, we would like to offer our sincere gratitude to the justices of the United States Supreme Court for following the rules of law and protecting the Constitutional Rights of ALL American Citizens of these United States,” Wyatt said, in a statement provided to NBC News.
“This is truly a victory for Mr. Cosby," Wyatt continued, "But it shows that cheating will never get you far in life and the corruption that lies within Montgomery County District’s Attorney Office has been brought to the center stage of the world."