Two months ago, after striking out again and again, lawyers for Bill Cosby filed yet another motion to get the man once labeled “America’s Dad” out of prison for the 2004 rape of a Temple University employee. Now, the accelerating spread of the coronavirus may achieve for Cosby what the courts would not grant.
“Nothing has been filed, but we’re exploring all legal actions,” the comedian’s longtime publicist & crisis manager Andrew Wyatt told Deadline this morning of efforts to secure early release and home arrest for the health-hobbled 82-year old Cosby.
“For the record, Mr. Cosby has not been tested for the virus — but is feeling fine — other than being blind and his blood pressure spiking at times,” Wyatt said earlier in the day in a statement expressing concern that Cosby, who was sentenced in September 2018, is in constant contact with other prisoners at SCI Phoenix in Montgomery County, PA.
“Mr. Cosby’s lawyers are now considering filing a motion asking the court to release Mr. Cosby from prison and place him under house arrest for the duration of his sentence,” Wyatt added. “Specifically, the lawyers are focusing on whether states are granting early release to elderly inmates from prisons due to the Coronavirus — which could be a valid legal argument for Mr. Cosby.” (Read the full statement below.)
Found guilty in an April 2018 retrial, the now officially designated sexual predator is serving up to 10 years behind bars for the rape of Andrea Constand.
Unsuccessful so far in subsequent attempts across various jurisdictions in the Keystone State to have the judge in the trials dismissed, the judgment reversed and to get out of prison, Cosby has taken to portraying himself as a de facto political prisoner and the victim of a “set-up.” When the now-incarcerated Harvey Weinstein was found guilty in late February on multiple sex crime charges, Wyatt put out a statement for Cosby saying it was a “sad day in the American judicial system … that should haunt all Americans, especially wealthy and famous men.”
In a prison system that is seen as a breeding ground for coronavirus infections, Weinstein tested positive for COVID-19 late last week. Serving the opening weeks of a 23-year sentence, the 68-year old Oscar-winning producer is now in the hospital in the Wende Correctional Facility in upstate New York. Following stints in Rikers Island and NYC’s Bellevue Hospital after the jury verdict and his March 11 sentencing, Weinstein was transferred to the prison just east of Buffalo on March 18.
Facing a hurricane of coronavirus cases, New York State has begun releasing non-violent offenders and others to cull the prison population. On the West Coast, California is taking a similar tactic in its state and county facilities. With 1,127 cases of COVID-19 currently, Pennsylvania is also weighing the option as officers and guards in both the state and federal prisons are getting sick.
As new restrictions on visitors go into effect due to the health crisis, SCI Phoenix prison has had at least one positive case among its staff. Surrounding Montgomery County has reported 172 cases as of Wednesday with one death, so far.
Here’s the full Cosby statement:
I’m very concerned for Mr. Cosby’s health in prison during the Coronavirus epidemic.
The reason: Mr. Cosby is elderly and blind — and always needs to be escorted around the prison by support service inmates, known as Certified Peer Specialists (CPI).
Those inmates could fall victim to the Coronavirus and easily spread the disease to Mr. Cosby as they wheel him around in a wheelchair.
Among their duties, the inmates bring Mr. Cosby to the infirmary for his doctor appointments and clean his cell.
In addition, Mr. Cosby is constantly in contact with the correction officers who could contract the disease on the outside and bring it inside the prison, potentially exposing Mr. Cosby to the virus.
Prisons and jails around the country are becoming infested with Coronavirus cases — and it’s only a matter of time before Mr. Cosby’s prison likely falls victim to the virus.
Mr. Cosby’s lawyers are now considering filing a motion asking the court to release Mr. Cosby from prison and place him under house arrest for the duration of his sentence.
Specifically, the lawyers are focusing on whether states are granting early release to elderly inmates from prisons due to the Coronavirus — which could be a valid legal argument for Mr. Cosby.
For the record, Mr. Cosby has not been tested for the virus — but is feeling fine — other than being blind and his blood pressure spiking at times.