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What now #MeToo: Does Cosby decision deter women seeking justice?

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Jennifer Bonjean, a lawyer for Bill Cosby, says she is thrilled that Pennsylvania's highest court has overturned the comedian's sex assault conviction and opened the way for his immediate release from prison.

When America watched Bill Cosby — once “America’s Dad” — go off to prison nearly three years ago, it was perhaps the most stunning development yet of the nascent #MeToo movement, which had emerged in late 2017 with allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Advocates and survivors of sexual assault hoped the movement would usher in an era of accountability for harassers and abusers — and in many ways, it did. Victims have been increasingly emboldened in recent years to seek justice, even for years-ago abuse, hoping their allegations would be taken more seriously.

But on Wednesday, as the nation digested the equally stunning sight of Cosby released from prison, some worried it would have a chilling effect on survivors, who often don't come forward because they don't believe it will bring justice.

And they wondered whether some of the movement’s momentum, already slowed by the pandemic, would be lost amid the feeling that another powerful man had gotten away with it — albeit on a technicality.

The seven justices who reversed Bill Cosby’s conviction this week spent months debating whether he had a secret agreement with a prosecutor that tainted his 2018 criminal sexual assault conviction.

The split court found that Cosby was unfairly prosecuted because the previous district attorney had promised the comedian once known as “America's Dad” that he wouldn't be charged over the accusations. Cosby was charged by another prosecutor who claimed he wasn't bound by that agreement.

Having a hard time understanding the legal reasons behind the surprising reversal? Here's a Q&A that breaks it down.

Meanwhile, Phylicia Rashad, who played Cosby's wife for years on the family sitcom “The Cosby Show,” has found herself embroiled in controversy after expressing public support for Bill Cosby's release from prison, with some prominent Black voices calling for her dismissal as dean of Howard University's College of Fine Arts.


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