After over two years in prison, United States (US) comedian, Bill Cosby, has regained freedom, following Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court decision to overturn his conviction for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman 15 years ago.
The 83-year-old left SCI Phoenix, a state jail sited 35 miles northwest of Philadelphia, after the court further ruled that he had been a fair trial in the sexual assault case against him.
Cosby, who shattered racial barriers with his Emmy-winning role on “I Spy” in the 1960s, was set free from the prison on Wednesday, in a blow to the #MeToo movement, the body that was championing judgement for victims of rape and sexual assaults across the country.
The multiple-awards-winning actor was convicted in 2018 for assaulting Andrea Constand at his Philadelphia mansion in 2004, an allegation that he denied constantly.
But the judges wrote in a 79-page decision that a non-prosecution agreement between a former district attorney and Cosby over evidence he gave in a civil case meant the actor should not have been charged.
Cosby, who also starred as a dad and doctor on the hit TV series “The Cosby Show,” in the 1980s, left prison just before 2:30 pm (1830 GMT), a spokesperson for Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections told AFP.
His conviction was the first guilty verdict for sexual assault against a celebrity since the advent of the worldwide reckoning against sexual violence and abuse of power dubbed the #MeToo movement.
In reaction to the judgement, the accusers of Cosby and supporters of the movement expressed anger at the court judgement and his release from custody in the state.
One of the group members, who is also a legal practitioner, Lisa Bloom, said that she and the three victims of Cosby abuse were disgusted that he was now a free man.
Cosby served more than two years of a three-to-ten-year sentence for aggravated indecent assault and has always maintained his innocence, although, he was yet to react to his release and Cosby’s publicist did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Although more than 60 women charged that they had been victims of sexual assault by Cosby, he was tried criminally only for Constand’s assault, since the statute of limitations had expired in the other cases.