Questions Linger After Bill Cosby's Conviction Was Overturned
NOEL KING, HOST:
Why did the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacate Cosby's conviction? It is very complicated, in fact. With me now is Nicki Weisensee Egan. She's an investigative reporter who covered the case. She also wrote the book "Chasing Cosby" and hosts a podcast of the same name.
Good morning, Nicki.
NICKI WEISENSEE EGAN: Good morning.
KING: You've been following the accusations against Cosby since very early on. Did you see this coming?
WEISENSEE EGAN: Well, I've been actually followed it since the first day the story broke in 2005.
WEISENSEE EGAN: I really had a sense that the state Supreme Court was not going to rule in the prosecution's favor in December when I watched the oral arguments because the justice's questioning of the prosecution was very hostile. In fact, at one point, the chief justice just walked away from his screen, and his screen went blank for 10 minutes. It was on YouTube because of COVID. It was just extraordinary to watch. I had never seen such unprofessional behavior in my life. So I expected they were going to rule in his favor, but not on this issue. I thought it would be the issue of the other accusers who were allowed to testify. This was a non-issue in my view. I mean, there is no proof that there was an immunity agreement - zero proof.
KING: Aha - let's talk about - you're mentioning an issue, and we haven't actually defined what that is. What was at issue? The court vacates - the Supreme Court vacates a conviction and says we are doing it because of X. What is X?
WEISENSEE EGAN: They believe that Cosby's due process rights were violated because while - Bruce Castor, the former DA, claims the press release he put out announcing he wasn't going to charge Cosby in 2005 was also an immunity agreement. And because of that, Cosby cooperated more fully during the deposition in Andrea's case than he would have and made those incriminating comments which were in turn used in the trials against him.
KING: I want to play a clip from Victoria Valentino. She's one of the women who has accused Bill Cosby, and she talked to our colleagues on All Things Considered yesterday. Let's listen.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)
VICTORIA VALENTINO: When he was sentenced, when he was found guilty, our faith was restored. And now, even though maybe there is a legal glitch that can support his false claim of innocence, we have to carry on regardless.
KING: I wonder what you think of this term legal glitch and whether this is similar - what Ms. Valentino is saying there is similar to what you've heard from his other accusers.
WEISENSEE EGAN: I mean, yeah, I've heard mixed things. Some were just confused and very upset. Tamara Green, who is a lawyer herself, was a little more pragmatic about it, pointing out, hey, he did serve three years, and he's 83. That's something. I mean, the shocking thing here is the remedy that the court decided was to bar him from being tried for a third time and release him immediately from prison on an issue that there - you can call it a legal glitch, but there's no proof that there was any such agreement, an immunity agreement. And Pennsylvania has to be signed off on by a judge. That was never done. And Bruce Castor, when he testified about this in 2016, said it was because he was the sovereign of Montgomery County and, therefore, he had the power to make this decision himself. And the scary thing is, is that if prosecutors have the power to make these side deals with defendants who - especially ones who are powerful and wealthy, then that is circumventing the justice system itself. And that is exactly what kept Bill Cosby safe from prosecution for decades.
KING: Do you think it's possible we could see an appeal or even a new legal action against Bill Cosby?
WEISENSEE EGAN: I know they're looking into it. I don't know that there's many avenues. They would have to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. But there are a couple of things they're looking into. I mean, there are more than 60 known victims of his at this point. And I believe there are hundreds of others who have not come forward. So it's possible that, you know, another case could be put up against him if another victim comes forward, especially one that's more recent.
KING: OK. Reporter Nicki Weisensee Egan is author of the book "Chasing Cosby." Thanks for taking the time, Nicki. We really appreciate it.
WEISENSEE EGAN: Sure. Thanks for having me on.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHRISTIAN SCOTT'S "DANZIGER")
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.