A Pennsylvania parole board on Thursday denied early release for Bill Cosby, citing the board’s desire for the imprisoned comedian to participate in and complete unspecified institutional programs.
The board also said it had received a negative recommendation from the state Department of Corrections, despite Cosby’s work with several men at SCI-Phoenix who told the Black Press that he has helped turn their lives around.
The board also said the 83-year-old entertainer hasn’t developed a parole release plan nor participated in or successfully completed a treatment program for sex offenders and violence prevention.
A jury convicted Cosby in 2018 of aggravated indecent assault, and the trial judge designated him as a sexually violent predator. He was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison, though Cosby continues to maintain his innocence.
Cosby is awaiting a decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, hoping the state’s highest court will reverse his conviction.
During the Supreme Court hearing in December, the justices appeared unimpressed with the prosecution’s explanation for using Cosby’s controversial civil deposition and prosecutors’ use of hearsay witnesses.
“I tend to agree this evidence was extraordinarily prejudicial to your client,” Justice Max Baer told Cosby attorney Jennifer Bonjean during the hearing.
“A defendant must be tried for what he did and not who he is,” Bonjean argued. “He had no shot. The presumption of innocence just didn’t exist for him at that point.”
Prosecutor Adrienne Jappe argued that the hearsay testimony showed a typical pattern, claiming Cosby befriended and isolated women and then drugged them to have sex with them.
During the trial, Andrea Constand, the accuser in the case, said the two never had intercourse.
She admitted to some forms of intimacy but claimed she was “unconscious” when Cosby put his hands inside her pants during their last intimate encounter.
Justice Christine Donohue told Jappe, “Frankly, I don’t see it.”
Chief Justice Thomas Saylor and Justice Kevin Dougherty also expressed being troubled by the hearsay testimony.
“The news that the Pennsylvania state parole board has denied [Cosby’s] parole is not a surprise to Mr. Cosby, his family, his friends and his legal team,” Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said in a statement.
“It was brought to our attention by Mr. Cosby that over the past months, members of the [Pennsylvania] state parole board had met with him and empathically stated if he did not participate in SVP [Sexual Violent Predator] courses that his parole would be denied,” Wyatt continued.
“Mr. Cosby has vehemently proclaimed his innocence and continues to deny all allegations made against him as being false, without the sheer evidence of any proof,” he said. “Today, Mr. Cosby continues to remain hopeful that the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court will issue an opinion to vacate his conviction or warrant him a new trial.”