Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case on Reinstating Bill Cosby's Sexual Assault Conviction

The ruling from Pennsylvania's high court that freed the comedian from prison is still intact.

The Supreme Court on Monday turned away a request from Pennsylvania prosecutors to review a state supreme court decision that overturned Bill Cosby's sexual assault conviction, leaving the ruling from Pennsylvania's high court that freed him from prison intact.

Prosecutors from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, asked the justices to wade into the case involving Cosby in November and argued the June decision from the state supreme court sets a "dangerous precedent" that is in tension with federal and state cases. The nation's highest court, though, spurned their bid to reinstate Cosby's conviction and, as is usual, did not explain its decision not to hear the case.

The decision from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to toss out Cosby's 2018 sexual assault conviction turned on a press release issued more than a decade earlier by Bruce Castor, who was then serving as the Montgomery County district attorney. Castor was in charge of investigating the criminal complaint against Cosby made by Andrea Constand, a former employee at Temple University who said Cosby sexually assaulted her at his home in 2004.

In the press release, Castor said he decided not to prosecute Cosby, as "under the circumstances of this case," a conviction would be "unattainable."

Constand then filed civil charges against Cosby and, in depositions in 2005 and 2006, Cosby testified he gave Constand Benadryl pills on the night of the assault. He also admitted to having access to Quaaludes and testified he gave the pills to women before sexual encounters.

Cosby's depositions were made public in July 2015, and Montgomery County's new district attorney reopened the investigation, eventually charging Cosby. He moved to dismiss the charges, arguing Castor, the former prosecutor, promised never to prosecute him.

Cosby was then convicted of three counts of aggravated indecent assault and sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison. 

After the conviction was upheld by the Pennsylvania Superior Court, Cosby appealed to the state supreme court. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in Cosby's favor in June, finding he relied on the press release from Castor as a grant of permanent immunity. The decision by Castor not to prosecute Cosby "was not conditioned in any way, shape, or form," the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found.

Cosby was released from prison last summer following the state high court's decision. 

This story was originally published by CBS News on March 7, 2022 at 10:27 a.m. ET. Zoe Christen Jones contributed to this report.