As reactions continue to pour in on the heels of Bill Cosby’s unexpected release from state prison – after his sexual assault conviction was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court – new questions have arisen as to what the embattled TV dad could do next.
The state’s highest court threw out the 83-year-old disgraced actor’s conviction after finding that District Attorney Kevin Steele, the prosecutor who brought the case against Cosby, violated an agreement to not charge him. It was a deal that previous District Attorney Bruce Castor had made in 2005, though it had apparently never been put in writing.
Now, leading legal expert Andrew Stoltmann, who is not involved in Cosby’s case, tells Fox News that there is a clear chance Cosby can turn the tables on the legal system and file his own grievance after serving two years of a three-to-10 year sentence for alleged sexual assault.
“First off, from a big picture perspective, it’s kind of a black mark on the entire #MeToo movement because Cosby was basically the start of #MeToo so for his conviction to get overturned, it’s a pretty big deal,” said the Chicago litigator.
“On a micro-level, I don’t think you can really read too much into it because this was a real unique fact pattern – and by that, I mean the prosecutors said Cosby wasn’t going to be indicted – publicly, he said that which is rare. So Cosby relied on that and then he testified in a deposition,” Stoltmann added.
“Now, ordinarily, if Cosby might be indicted, he could have pled the Fifth Amendment – the right not to self-incriminate himself but because the prosecutors said he’s not going to be indicted, Cosby spoke,” the attorney explained. “Cosby let himself get deposed and he couldn’t claim the Fifth because the prosecutor said he wasn’t going to be indicted. So it’s a real narrow fact pattern. I don’t think Harvey Weinstein or the other #MeToo people sitting in jail can use this fact pattern, but it is a big deal.”
Stotlmann spoke to Fox News about what Cosby’s next move could be and more.
Fox News: What is Cosby’s likely next move? Could he sue for damages?
Andrew Stotlmann: Yeah, I would put the odds at better than 50/50 that Cosby files a civil lawsuit for malicious prosecution and I would expect him to do that because look, prosecutors have a great deal of immunity in what they do unless they commit clear prosecutorial misconduct and a compelling case can be made that this is prosecutorial misconduct. It’s a black eye on prosecutors and it’s a black eye on the criminal process system … Now, how much lasting impact it has? I don’t think a great deal. But today it’s a black eye.
Fox News: How is it that Cosby’s defense team could have uncovered an unwritten deal of non-prosecution from 2005?
Stotlmann: I think they relied on the court records and public statements. You usually can’t introduce new information in an appeal like this. So I don’t know precisely the evidentiary record. But given Cosby’s resources, he had the ability to investigate, dig and establish a quality record.
Fox News: In your experience looking at cases of this magnitude, how much money would you estimate Bill Cosby spent on his legal defense from indictment to release?
Stotlmann: I would say there’s no question Cosby has spent at least $10 million and that number could be as high as $25 million between the two trials – the appeal, the private investigators – I mean, it’s a substantial bill. And he had some of the best lawyers that money can buy.
Fox News: When you first saw the judgment come through in the news, what was your initial reaction?
Stotlmann: I was shocked because it’s not common for criminal convictions to be overturned. But there is an advantage to having a lot of money and having the best lawyers that money can buy and Cosby has taken advantage of that – and I don’t mean that in a bad way, but when you have money, you can afford a very vigorous legal defense. And that’s what Cosby did.
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