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There is more to the Cosby case than guilt or innocence

Like everyone else, I was surprised that Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. It’s one thing for me to believe that Cosby was treated unfairly by a racist criminal justice system. It’s quite another thing for the state’s highest court to say Cosby’s due process rights were violated.

At issue was a promise by former Montgomery County DA Bruce Castor, who declined to prosecute Cosby in return for Cosby’s deposition in a civil case filed by Andrea Constand. She said Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in his Cheltenham home, and though Cosby didn’t face criminal charges at first, he paid her $3.38 million to settle the civil suit, and the deposition, which was supposed to be sealed, was ultimately used against Cosby at trial.

On Wednesday, Pennsylvania’s high court said that kind of prosecutorial bait-and-switch is wrong, writing that “the discretion vested in our commonwealth’s prosecutors, however vast, does not mean that its exercise is free of the constraints of due process. When an unconditional charging decision is made publicly and with the intent to induce action and reliance by the defendant, and when the defendant does so to his detriment (and in some instances upon the advice of counsel), denying the defendant the benefit of that decision is an affront to fundamental fairness, particularly when it results in a criminal prosecution that was foregone for more than a decade.”

The court is right, but Cosby’s accusers are understandably angry.
Click here to read the entire column on WHYY

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