Bill Cosby To Be Released From Prison After Sex Assault Conviction Overturned

Comedian Bill Cosby
Comedian Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby (image via Flickr/World Affairs CouncilCC license)

Comedian Bill Cosby will be released from prison within hours today as Pennsylvania’s high court has reportedly overturned his conviction for sex assault.

According to the ruling, because a previous prosecutor chose not to charge Cosby, the actor felt he could speak freely about the incident. His remarks ultimately led to his being found guilty.

Cosby was convicted of three aggravated indecent assault counts and sentenced in 2018 to 3-10 years in prison.

From the New York Post:

Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned Bill Cosby’s sex assault conviction Wednesday after finding an agreement with a previous prosecutor prevented him from being charged in the case.

Cosby has served more than two years of a three- to 10-year sentence at a state prison near Philadelphia. He had vowed to serve all 10 years rather than acknowledge any remorse over the 2004 encounter with accuser Andrea Constand.

The 83-year-old Cosby, who was once beloved as “America’s Dad,” was convicted of drugging and molesting the Temple University employee at his suburban estate.

More from NBC News:

The state Supreme Court said a previous prosecutor’s decision not to charge Cosby, 83, opened the door for him to speak freely in a civil lawsuit against him — and that testimony was key in the comic’s conviction in criminal court.

“When an unconditional charging decision is made publicly and with the intent to induce action and reliance by the defendant, and when the defendant does so to his detriment (and in some instances upon the advice of counsel), denying the defendant the benefit of that decision is an affront to fundamental fairness, particularly when it results in a criminal prosecution that was foregone for more than a decade,” according to the high court opinion.

News Round-Up: May 25, 2021

Former Army Captain Roberto Portales
Former Army Captain Roberto Portales
Former Army Captain Roberto Portales and friends (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Former Army Captain Roberto Portales (above) says his pups love the head massages. The Brody and Miss Scarlett happily concur with that sentiment. #DogsRule

The Advocate: Ten days after coming out as a lesbian on Facebook, Private First Class Kaylie Harris filed a complaint after allegedly being sexually assaulted by a fellow service member. But when the military removed a protective order that let her come into contact with her alleged rapist, the encounter left Harris reeling. Days later, she bought a handgun and died by suicide.

Deadline Hollywood: Samuel E. Wright, whose vocal portrayal of Sebastian the crab in Disney’s The Little Mermaid included the Oscar-winning “Under the Sea,” died yesterday at his home in the village of Walden, New York, of prostate cancer. The Broadway veteran (Jesus Christ Superstar, Pippin, The Lion King) was 74.

Washington Post: 64.4 million Americans have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, covering 58.7% of the eligible population, 12 and older and 49.5% of the total population.

The Guardian: Bloggers and influencers have been offered money by a PR agency with apparent Russian connections to falsely tell their followers the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is responsible for hundreds of deaths. The company has since closed its website and made its Instagram account private.

Kansas City Star: Kansas Rep. Mark Samsel (R-Wellsville) is facing 3 misdemeanor battery charges involving two 16-year-old student while substitute teaching last month. One student told police Samsel kicked him in the testicles. Samsel reportedly told investigators he was following instructions from God.

Leading #MeToo Lawyer Drops Biden Accuser Tara Reade

Former Senate staffer Tara Reade (screen capture)

Axios is reporting the prominent sexual harassment lawyer representing Tara Reade, the former Senate staffer who has accused Joe Biden of sexual assault in 1993, has announced his office is not representing Reade any longer.

While Wigdor did not provide a reason behind his firm’s decision, he did say that the move is “by no means a reflection” on the veracity of her allegations.

Some of Wigdor’s most notable cases have taken on Fox News, including former top host Bill O’Reilly, and Harvey Weinstein.

Despite his caseload, Wigdor has also garnered press for being a staunch conservative and supporter of President Trump.

Biden has flatly denied Reade’s allegations.

The big picture: The development comes a day after California defense attorneys said they are reviewing cases in which Reade testified as an expert on domestic violence, following concerns that she misrepresented her academic qualifications.

Additionally, CNN has recently reported problems with Reade’s claim that she received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Antioch University in Seattle; the school denied to CNN that she ever graduated from the university.

As a result, defense attorneys in California say they are now reviewing cases in which Reade testified as an expert based, in part, on her educational credentials.

This is the full statement from Wigdor’s law firm:

“Our Firm no longer represents Tara Reade. Our decision, made on May 20, is by no means a reflection on whether then-Senator Biden sexually assaulted Ms. Reade. On that point, our view which is the same view held by the majority of Americans, according to a Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll has not changed. We also believe to a large extent Ms. Reade has been subjected to a double standard in terms of the media coverage she has received.

“Much of what has been written about Ms. Reade is not probative of whether then-Senator Biden sexually assaulted her, but rather is intended to victim-shame and attack her credibility on unrelated and irrelevant matters. We genuinely wish Ms. Reade well and hope that she, as a survivor, is treated fairly. We have and will continue to represent survivors regardless of their alleged predator’s status or politics.”

News Round-Up: May 19, 2020

Joe Blizzard (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Woofy Joe Blizzard (above) is giving you boo-boo face over having to deal with home-gym workouts. Don’t worry, Joe, the gyms will open soon. Follow him on Insta here.

Deadline: In surprising news, Ruby Rose, the star of the CW’s freshman drama series Batwoman, is leaving the Warner Bros. TV/Berlanti Prods. drama after one season. The series, which already has been renewed for a second season, will continue with the title role getting recast. Rose, an alum of Orange is the New Black, returned to the small screen with Batwoman, playing the first gay lead character — male or female — of a live-action superhero series.

ABC News: After nine homes over five years, 17-year-old Michael was adopted by Chad and Paul Beanblossom of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Despite the coronavirus pandemic shutting down court proceedings, 80 people including friends, family and adoption specialists witnessed the special moment unfold over the Zoom teleconferencing app.

The Gaily Grind: Matt Belanger, an Emmy-winning news anchor in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was viciously attacked in what police believe was a hate crime fueled by homophobia. He suffered an eye injury which could result in permanent vision damage. Vennie Jerome Williams, 39, was arrested in connection to the assault. While in police custody, authorities said Williams “made statements indicating that he assaulted [Belanger] because he perceived that [he] was homosexual.”

Politico: More vetting of Tara Reade’s allegations of sexual assault by former Vice President Joe Biden reveals those who have tried to help her in the past were left with an unsavory impression. A number of those who crossed paths with Reade say they remember two things: She spoke favorably about her time working for Biden, and she left them feeling duped.

The Advocate: CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show last Thursday, that along with his newborn son Wyatt, he considers being gay “one of the great blessings” of his life.

News Round-Up: May 18, 2020

RuPaul (left) raised $100K for Planned Parenthood on ‘The Price Is Right’

Some news items you might have missed:

Billboard: Emmy Award winner RuPaul (above) raised nearly $100,000 for Planned Parenthood during a special nighttime edition of the long-running game show, The Price Is Right.

Reuters: Albania’s leading psychologists’ organization has prohibited members from practicing so-called “conversion therapy” which aims to make gay people straight. Albania joins Germany and Malta as the third country in the EU to ban the practice.

PBS News Hour: The venerable news outlet interviewed 74 former staffers for Joe Biden in regard to Tara Reade’s allegations that the former vice president sexually assaulted her in 1993. None of the people interviewed said that they had experienced sexual harassment, assault or misconduct by Biden. All said they never heard any rumors or allegations of Biden engaging in sexual misconduct, until the recent assault allegation made by Reade.

The Advocate: As a huge fan of the 1970s sci-fi series The Bionic Woman, I found this article, exploring why the show resonates so deeply with feminist and LGBTQ audiences, fascinating.

HuffPost: Taking a page from his dad’s playbook, Eric Trump insisted in an interview that COVID-19 will “magically” disappear — after Election Day. He claimed that the coronavirus that has killed 312,000 people around the globe — including nearly 90,000 Americans — is a ploy cooked-up by the Democrats to stop Donald Trump from rallying his supporters at campaign events.

New Music: Eurovision’s 2018 champion Netta is back with her new song “Cuckoo”, a devastating heartbreaker of a ballad that feels eerily poignant given the state of the world currently.

The song debuted as a part of Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light which aired in 46 countries and included this touching video of Netta performing the track with a custom-made music box. The studio recording of the single is also available now.

The track is a noticeable departure for the Israeli artist/composer/songwriter who has become famous garnering over 1 billion streams globally for her bombastic, colorful, and high-adrenaline pop songs like “Toy” which led to her win at the Eurovision competition.

Inconsistencies (And Edited Accusations) Muddy Assault Allegations Against Biden

Former Vice President Joe Biden on MSNBC (screen capture)

Former Vice President and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, in a statement from his campaign, explicitly denied accusations that he sexually assaulted a former aide during his time in the Senate.

I want to address allegations by a former staffer that I engaged in misconduct 27 years ago. They aren’t true. This never happened.

While the details of these allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are complicated, two things are not complicated.

One is that women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and when they step forward they should be heard, not silenced. The second is that their stories should be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny.

Responsible news organizations should examine and evaluate the full and growing record of inconsistencies in her story, which has changed repeatedly in both small and big ways.

More from the Washington Post:

Biden echoed his denial on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” shortly after the statement was released. He also called on the National Archives to release any record of a complaint that the former aide, Tara Reade, says she filed. “If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there,” said Biden.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, the National Archives said that “any records of Senate personnel complaints from 1993 would have remained under the control of the Senate.”

“Accordingly, inquiries related to these records should be directed to the Senate,” the statement added.

Reade has said that she filed a complaint with a congressional human resources or personnel office but did not remember the exact name. Her complaint dealt only with the alleged harassment, not the alleged assault, she said. The Post could find no record of the complaint, and Reade said she didn’t have a copy.

In an MSNBC interview with host Mika Brzezinski, Biden appeared from his makeshift home television studio in Delaware. It was the first time he faced questions on the allegations in a public setting.

“I don’t remember any type of complaint she may have made,” Biden said in the interview, when asked if he remembered Reade or the complaint. “It was 27 years ago, and I don’t remember. Nor does anyone else that I’m aware of.”

Reade made her initial accusation last year to several news outlets: that Biden had put his hands on her shoulders and neck when she was working in his Senate office and it made her ‘uncomfortable.’ She says that she brought up the incident to senior aides in the office, but when interviewed those aides told the Washington Post that they had no memory of her allegations.

Reade also says she filed a report about the incident, which she’s characterized as changing ‘the trajectory’ of her life, but says she didn’t keep a copy. No one seems to know anything about the alleged report.

Then during a podcast interview last month, her allegations escalated to claiming Biden sexually assaulted her somewhere on Capitol Hill. She said he pushed her up against a wall, moved his hands up under her skirt and penetrated her.

In a detailed examination of her account two weeks ago, the Washington Post wrote that one of her friends confirmed that Reade had told her of an incident shortly after she said it had occurred.

In that same report, the Post wrote that Reade’s brother, Collin Moulton, acknowledged that she had told him in 1993 that Biden had touched her neck and shoulders. But there was no mention of the actual sexual assault – clearly the most important aspect of the alleged incident.

Interestingly, days after the interview, he sent messages via texts adding that he “recalled her telling him that Biden had put his hand under her clothes.'”

At this point in this post, I want to state clearly: I have personally been the target of sexual misconduct in the workplace in the past. Additionally, I was sexually assaulted during a first “date” in the early 1990s.

I firmly believe anyone who raises such allegations should be taken seriously and the accusations should be properly vetted. That said, I don’t think every single accusation should be blindly taken as truth.

While Biden has been accused of over-hugging in the past, which has often been attributed to his age and how men acted in the past, he’s since acknowledged times have changed and he plans to be more aware of touching people.

Michael J. Stern, a 28-year federal and state prosecutor who handled numerous sexual assault cases, penned an op-ed for USA Today explaining his skepticism regarding Reade’s allegations.

I encourage you to read it in full, but some of the issues he raises are:

• Reade waiting 27 years to make her accusations public.

• She spoke with a newspaper last year and accused Biden of touching her in a way that made her uncomfortable — but neglected to mention her claim that he forcibly penetrated her with his fingers. She later said she felt uncomfortable with the reporter, but as Stern points out, why would it take a year to find a qualified journalist to tell her story to?

• The New York Times and the Washington Post have cumulatively interviewed dozens of people in the past month about Reade’s accusation and no other allegations of sexual assault by Biden arose. As Stern writes, “In my experience, men who commit a sexual assault are accused more than once … like Donald Trump, who has had more than a dozen allegations of sexual assault leveled against him and who was recorded bragging about grabbing women’s genitalia.”

• Biden campaigned and went on to become Vice President of the United States for 8 years, but Reade never said anything during that time.

• In 2017, on multiple occasions, Reade retweeted or “liked” praise for Biden and his work combating sexual assault. It is bizarre that Reade would publicly laud Biden for combating the very thing she would later accuse him of doing to her.

• By January of 2020, though, Reade had become a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders and penned an essay on Medium saying the Democratic party was trying to “shove” Biden down Democrats throats. She also wrote approvingly of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

• Speaking of timing, Stern notes that Reade’s allegations didn’t escalate to full-on sexual assault until Biden began to win in the Democratic primaries in March.

There’s much more in Stern’s USA Today op-ed and I encourage you to read it.

One more thing I’ll add here.

On the same day Reade accused Joe Biden of sexual assault in March, she apparently edited her previous statements posted to her Medium account to better match the new allegations. At that link, a journalist has compared and highlighted the numerous additions and deletions made on March 24, 2020.

Why would she alter her original words without mentioning the amendment on her post…on the DAY she accused him of sexual assault?

As I earlier stated, I believe allegations of sexual assault should be taken seriously. But believing ALL accusations blindly doesn’t serve women, the #MeToo movement or truth as a whole.