PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As news of Bill Cosby’s release spread, many questioned its legal consequences, both for the comedian and the victims who testified in his criminal case.
“This decision by the Supreme Court really comes out of left field,” criminal defense attorney Damian Jackson said.READ MORE: SEPTA Union Unanimously Approves Strike If Deal Isn't Reached
Cosby’s release has many wondering how it happened.
“The promise was if he moved forward with the civil case, he would not be prosecuted,” Jackson said.
Wednesday’s ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upholds a deal made back in 2005 between Cosby’s lawyers and former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor which stated the comedian would be forced to testify about his involvement with accuser Andrea Constand in exchange for immunity.
“He did what was in the best interest of justice at that time,” Jackson said.
The higher court’s decision now legally wipes clean Cosby’s 2018 trial and conviction of drugging and sexually assaulting Constand. That proceeding was OKed by current DA Kevin Steele.
“It means he’s free and clear, it doesn’t mean that he didn’t do it,” Jackson said.READ MORE: Double Shooting In Eastwick Kills 25-Year-Old Man, Wounds Pregnant Woman: Police
“It’s very frustrating, it’s incredibly disappointing,” said Jennifer Storm, former victim advocate for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Storm worked with several of Cosby’s accusers during the criminal trial.
“What I don’t want it to mean, is I don’t want victims out there to say, see this is why we shouldn’t come forward,” she said.
Storm hopes Cosby’s verdict will change the way future cases are handled.
“I want prosecutors to be emboldened by this and that you can believe a survivor and that a survivor’s story and their voice is evidence enough to prosecute a case,” Storm said.
Cosby’s case cannot be retried but can be appealed before the U.S. Supreme Court. However, many legal experts note fewer than 3% of all proceedings submitted are accepted.MORE NEWS: 'I Want To Go To Class': Philadelphia Students, Parents On Edge As Possible SEPTA Strike Could Force Virtual Learning
CBS3’s Alicia Roberts reports.