Cosby, 82, has been behind bars since September 2018, serving a sentence of 3 to 10 years for aggravated indecent sexual assault. The comedian has maintained his innocence throughout, and indeed, his first appeal was denied in September 2019.
On Tuesday, the state’s Supreme Court agreed to allow him to appeal his sentence, on four specific grounds Cosby’s attorneys have argued that he didn’t get a fair trial and sentence.
Specifically, according to a 2019 USA Today report, Cosby’s team has argued that the court should not have allowed the prosecution to call 5 accusers to testify that he had given them quaaludes in the past. Cosby was not being criminally tried for any of those accusations, his team argued, so there was no need to bring them into court. The prosecution, however, maintained that the accusers’ claims established a “signature” pattern of drugging and molesting women.
An appeals court sided with the prosecution.
“We conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the (prior bad acts) evidence and, therefore, Appellant’s first claim lacks merit,” the ruling concluded.
The ruling also noted that Pennsylvania law allows such testimony.
“After two days of hearings, the trial court found that there was no promise not to prosecute and that defendant did not rely on it to his detriment,” the prosecutor’s office wrote in a brief.
Further, the Supreme Court will consider Cosby’s defense team’s claim that he had an agreement in mind when he was testifying in his civil case. The prosecutor violated that agreement, Cosby’s team says, according to a report from Variety.
Cosby’s team also presented two other grounds for appeal, but the court rejected those and will not hear them.
Specifically, Cosby’s team says that before the trial, a potential juror said that he or she was ready to find Cosby guilty and that the judge improperly denied a hearing on that matter. Further, the defense argued that Cosby was improperly sentenced under the 2018 Sex Offender Registration Act.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Cosby tied the comedian’s prosecution to the ongoing national conversation about racism in the justice system.
“As we have all stated, the false conviction of Bill Cosby is so much bigger than him — it’s about the destruction of ALL Black people and people of color in America,” the spokesperson said.