Bill Cosby Won't Return to Prison After SCOTUS Refuses to Hear Case

The Supreme Court decided Monday not to review a case that could have reinstated Bill Cosby's sexual assault conviction.

Cosby, 84, was found guilty in 2018 of drugging and sexually assaulting Temple University sports administrator Andrea Constand in 2004. But in June 2021 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out the conviction and released him from prison.

The top federal court's decision to not hear the case is a blow to #MeToo activists, as the actor/comedian was the first celebrity to be convicted of sexual assault since that national movement began, according to the Associated Press. Cosby had served less than three years of a three- to 10-year sentence when he was released.

Cosby, who enjoyed great success with his '80s and '90s TV sitcom, was often referred to as "America's Dad," but that image was shattered as a flood of sexual assault accusations against him began. Outside of Constand's case, nearly 60 other women have accused him of sexual assault over his decades-long career.

The U.S. Supreme Court did not comment on its reasons for not taking the case, which is typical for this kind of decision, according to the AP. The Cosby case was included in a list of other denied cases that the court issued Monday.

Cosby's 2018 conviction was overturned when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court looked into a 2005 civil lawsuit from Constand. In 2005, Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor told Cosby if he testified in the suit he would never be criminally prosecuted for assaulting Constand.

Cosby agreed, admitting he gave Constand Benadryl and other women quaaludes before sex. Cosby paid $3.38 million in damages in the lawsuit, and Castor said he would not bring criminal charges. However, the Montgomery County DA who succeeded Castor reversed that decision. The state's Supreme Court ruled that Cosby's due process rights were violated, overturning his conviction on June 30, 2021. He was released later the same day.

Prosecutors in the case appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in November 2021, arguing that Cosby was not granted lifetime immunity. In a statement released at the time, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said the petition to the nation's highest court was necessary because the state court's decision set a precedent saying "prosecutors' statements in press releases now seemingly create immunity."

In a statement sent to Newsweek, Steele said there was only a small chance the Supreme Court would have been able to hear the case but petitioning the court was still "the right thing to do."

"We appreciate the Court's consideration," Steele said. "My appreciation also goes to Andrea Constand. All crime victims deserve to be heard, treated with respect and be supported through their day in court. I wish her the best as she moves forward in her life."

Update 03/07/22, 11:20 a.m. ET: This story was updated with more background, including a statement from Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele.

Bill Cosby, Pennsylvania, trial
The Supreme Court will not review a state court decision that got Bill Cosby released from prison. Above, Cosby arrives for sentencing in his sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, on September 24, 2018. Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images