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Bill Cosby freed after a court overturned his sexual assault conviction

Bill Cosby looks on outside his house after Pennsylvania's highest court overturned his sexual assault conviction and ordered him released from prison immediately, in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, U.S. June 30, 2021. REUTERS/Rachel Wisniewski

American comedian Bill Cosby is now a free man after his sexual assault conviction was overturned by Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court.

The judges said there had been a “process violation” by the prosecution, but admitted their ruling was unusual.

Mr Cosby, 83, is best known for starring in the 1980s TV series The Cosby Show and was once known as “America’s Dad”. He served more than two years of a three to 10-year sentence at a state prison near Philadelphia.

In 2018 he was found guilty of drugging and molesting ex-basketball player Andrea Constand. Dozens of women have publicly accused Mr Cosby of sexual assault, but he was only tried criminally for the incident against Ms Constand. His conviction in 2018 was widely seen as a landmark moment in the #MeToo movement.

In a verdict issued on Wednesday, Pennsylvania’s highest court found there was a “process violation” because Mr Cosby’s lawyers had made an agreement with a previous state prosecutor that he would not be charged in the case.

The former actor appeared frail as he slowly walked to waiting media outside his home, shortly after being released from prison. He did not say anything, instead leaning on his team of lawyers and spokesman Andrew Wyatt to answer questions.

Actor Phylicia Rashad, who played his wife on the Cosby Show, wrote on Twitter: “A terrible wrong is being righted – a miscarriage of justice is corrected!” in response to the news.

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