Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has denied Bill Cosby an early release from prison despite an executive order that allows many seniors with underlying health conditions to serve their sentences at home temporarily.
A spokesperson for the governor said Cosby does not qualify because the judge who presided over his trial, Steven O’Neill, labeled the actor and comedian a “sexually violent predator.”
Cosby, 82, was convicted in 2018 of aggravated indecent assault of a woman with whom he once had a relationship. He was given a 3-to-10 year prison sentence when most legal experts said the conviction called for anywhere from probation to a maximum of three years.
Cosby has already served more than half of his minimum sentence and has garnered a reputation in prison as one who is making a difference.
Cosby was forced to undergo two major surgeries last fall, said spokesman Andrew Wyatt.
The procedures, performed in prison, helped prevent Cosby from suffering a stroke and heart attack, according to Wyatt, who had previously shown a reluctance to release the actor’s health history.
“During a visit to the infirmary at SCI-Phoenix for high blood pressure issues, Mr. Cosby was informed that the carotid arteries on the right and left side of his neck had 90 percent blockage due to plaque buildup,” Wyatt said, noting that the carotid arteries are the major blood vessels in the neck that supply blood to the brain, neck and face.
“Those surgeries were done separately, and they were successful,” he said. “Mr. Cosby now takes medication for high blood pressure, and he is 100 percent blind from glaucoma.
“We are asking Governor Wolf to amend his executive order and grant Mr. Cosby Compassionate Relief based on his current medical status,” Wyatt said. “President Donald Trump, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and his gubernatorial peers, along with medical expert Dr. Anthony Fauci have all stated COVID-19 is deadly to the elderly, COVID-19 is deadly to those that suffer from underlying medical issues, COVID-19 has been deadly to more Blacks and people of color than any other race and COVID-19 is deadly to those individuals that are in an environment which prevents any form of social distancing such as prisons, schools and nursing homes.
“Mr. Cosby was not given a life sentence nor a death sentence, so we are requesting that Governor Wolf use his gubernatorial powers to show compassion to another human being, Bill Cosby,” he said. “It has been well-documented in the media and by the Secretary of Prisons, John Wetzel, that SCI-Phoenix has been badly infected with the COVID-19 virus.”