Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling to vacate Bill Cosby’s conviction is not only about vindication for the comedian.
For Cosby, it is now about helping other Black men who were falsely accused.
He told the Black Press in an exclusive telephone conversation just hours after his release from a prison outside of Philadelphia.
“This is an opportunity that the Black Press, the writers, the men, and the women have now an opportunity with great intelligence, with great foresight, with great after sight, not just about Mr. Cosby, it is about what you saw, it is about what you know, and you must tell it, and you must be believed, and you have to put it in a way a level of intelligence,” Cosby insisted.
He said it’s important that the NAACP’s Crisis Magazine also reports the truth of his case because it could assist many falsely accused African Americans who don’t have the notoriety or the means to fight their cases.
The National Newspaper Publishers Association closely monitored both of Cosby’s trials in Pennsylvania, and not surprisingly, the reporting done by the Black Press of America proved far different from mainstream media’s accounts.
For instance, the Black Press regularly reported on the egregious behavior of trial court Judge Steven O’Neill, District Attorney Kevin Steele, and several lawyers who openly coached witnesses while they were giving testimony.
The Black Press also reported that jurors in Cosby’s first trial initially voted to acquit the comedian but was ordered by Judge O’Neill to deliberate further. That first trial ended in a hung jury, despite Cosby’s team declining to put on a defense.
Former prosecutor Bruce Castor exclusively told the Black Press that Cosby should never have been tried because of a deal he reached with the superstar a decade prior.
Castor also called into question the credibility of Andrea Constand, the lone alleged victim in the case.
“What is happening to Bill Cosby is a travesty, a miscarriage of justice,” Castor said.
The state Supreme Court backed up Castor in overturning the conviction.
“By publicly announcing that appellant William Cosby would not be charged with any crimes related to Andrea Constand — a decision apparently made, in part, to force Cosby to testify in Constand’s future anticipated civil suit — former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor intended to, and in fact did, force Cosby to give up his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination,” Justice Kevin Dougherty wrote.
“Then, years later, Castor’s successor used the damaging evidence Cosby turned over in the civil case to convict him of the same criminal offenses he had previously been induced to believe were off the table. I am constrained to agree with the majority that due process does not permit the government to engage in this type of coercive bait-and-switch.”
Justice David Wecht further broke down the reason for overturning Cosby’s conviction.
“In 2005, Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor learned that Andrea Constand had reported that William Cosby had sexually assaulted her in 2004 at his Cheltenham residence. Along with his top deputy prosecutor and experienced detectives, District Attorney Castor thoroughly investigated Constand’s claim,” Justice Wecht wrote.
“In evaluating the likelihood of a successful prosecution of Cosby, the district attorney foresaw difficulties with Constand’s credibility as a witness based, in part, upon her decision not to file a complaint promptly. D.A. Castor further determined that a prosecution would be frustrated because there was no corroborating forensic evidence and because testimony from other potential claimants against Cosby likely was inadmissible under governing laws of evidence.”
The judge continued:
“The collective weight of these considerations led D.A. Castor to conclude that, unless Cosby confessed, “there was insufficient credible and admissible evidence upon which any charge against Mr. Cosby related to the Constand incident could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., said the Black Press continues to cover the Cosby matter because of the tremendous interest of Black America to see justice done.
“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania emphasizes the importance of what the NNPA has been doing about the Cosby case,” Dr. Chavis exclaimed.
“As I visited Cosby in prison in Pennsylvania, I witnessed firsthand the strength of his spirit and affirmation of his innocence. Yet, it took the great work of his lawyers and the growing sentiment in the court of public review that enabled the Supreme Court to make this historic decision.
“I know from personal experience, and it is very difficult to have an alleged criminal conviction overturned by appellate courts. But now, like what happened to the Wilmington Ten in the 1970s and 1980s, we have the Bill Cosby case today as a reminder of the systemic racism and injustice in America’s criminal justice system.”