The surprising decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to overturn Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction on Wednesday has sparked widespread surprise and anger, especially in and around Hollywood, where once the ‘daddy of America’ he was a comedy giant.
The verdict against Bill Cosby: a rare moment of justice in a long and difficult battle
“The news has infuriated me”, wrote actress Amber Tamblyn on Twitter. The protagonist of the film The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, who has shared her own experiences of sexual assault on social media, added that she knows personally “women whom this man drugged and raped while unconscious.” “This decision and this court are shameful,” he wrote alongside the hashtags #TimesUp and #MeToo.
“THIS is the reason why women do not report”, tweeted veteran columnist E Jean Carroll, one of several women with credible accusations against Donald Trump for sexual assault (Carroll has sued Trump for defamation).
The comedian left jail this Wednesday around 2:30 p.m., as reported The Washington Post, without any means of communication being able to record his departure. “I have never changed my position or my story. I have always maintained my innocence. Thank you to all my fans, followers and friends who supported me through this ordeal. A special thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for upholding the rule of law.” tweeted Cosby this Wednesday night.
The first victory of the #MeToo movement
Cosby (83) was arrested in 2015 and convicted in 2018 for drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand, an employee of Temple University, in 2004 on his property on the outskirts of the city. Out of a sentence of between three and ten years, the comedy star has served two years in a state prison near Philadelphia. Cosby promised to serve the 10-year sentence rather than show regret for his actions.
David Wecht, one of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices, wrote that Cosby had given potentially incriminating testimony in a previous Constand civil lawsuit because the prosecutor at the time had decided not to charge him.
The Cosby trial came after more than 50 women exposed that they had been drugged and assaulted by the comedian. It was the first major conviction against a famous person from the #MeToo era and was seen as a symbol of how powerful men also had to pay for what they had done.
“Not in my worst case scenario”
After what had been a difficult victory for the #MeToo movement, the annulment of the ruling aroused expressions of pain. “Heartbreaking for all survivors. #MeToo lasts forever”, tweeted Ellen Barkin. “To all the women who were sexually assaulted by #BillCosby, my heart suffers with you today, I am full of fury, it is horrible”, tweeted Debra Messing.
“Not even in my worst end of the world scenario was there a court denying 50 accusations of sexual assault and releasing Bill Cosby …”, tweeted MSNBC host Joy Reid.
“In today’s episode of ‘How the Justice System Fails Victims’, Bill Cosby is freed on a technicality”, tweeted former California congresswoman Katie Hill.
Not everyone was discouraged by the court’s decision. Phylicia Rashad, the woman who played Cosby’s wife (Clair Huxtable) from The Cosby Show began in 1984 until it ended in 1992, continued to support the actor. “FINALLY !!!! A terrible mistake, a judicial mistake, has been corrected”, tweeted next to a photo of the actor.
“Today’s news is a setback in the fight to obtain justice for survivors of sexual assault,” they wrote in a statement from the organization Women in Film. “When the system dismisses dozens of accusations in this way, due to a technical gap and not because of the evidence that led to the sentence, the perception is created that it is not worthwhile for victims to report.”
“I guess 70 women were not enough, screw you, Bill”, tweeted Actress Rosie O’Donnell. “It is a total fabrication that Bill Cosby is being released”, wrote writer Roxane Gay. “And yes, it is the responsibility of the prosecutors,” he added in another tweet. “Some of this mess may also fall on them.”
Translated by Francisco de Zárate