Bill Cosby found himself back on prime-time television when millions around the world turned to the news as the verdict was announced in what experts label the highest watched trial of modern-times. Just as reporters fled the courtroom to announce that the comic icon was found guilty — Judge Steven T. O’Neill made a move that was recently deemed ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘illegal’ by the Pennsylvania Superior Court — and sources confirm it was a “publicity-driven” decision!
Immediately following the guilty verdict, Bill Cosby was ordered to undergo a Sexually Violent Predator Assessment as part of his release conditions — an evaluation that would’ve been typical practice if he was found guilty at his original trial — but in November, the Pennsylvania Superior Court found the assessment was ‘unconstitutional’ and a waste of taxpayer money and time.
“Accordingly, we are constrained to hold that [Sexually Violent Predator Assessments] [are] unconstitutional,” the Pa. Superior Court wrote in their decision in Com. v. Butler, adding it was “illegal” to order Butler to partake in the assessment.
The decision came in November 2017, just months after the initial trial and prior to the retrial.
The amended law governing the classification of sexually violent predators states that “the court shall determine whether the Commonwealth has proved by clear and convincing evidence that the individual is a sexually violent predator.” Therefore, the burden to determine whether or not Bill Cosby fits the profile rested on the prosecution.
The Butler Court held that the assessment is a form of illegal-punishment because “the court did not make its determination based on the highest standard of proof: beyond a reasonable doubt and because the statute allows the judge to make the determination instead of giving the defendant the right to a jury,“ Philadelphia based criminal defense attorney Zak T. Goldstein told our reporters.
Another lawyer would only comment under the circumstance of anonymity as he practices in Montgomery County, strongly believes “[Judge] O’Neill’s ruling was solely focused on publicity.”
“Basically, our higher-courts deemed the assessment so useless that it was unconstitutional – the only purpose for it is to drag a defendant through the mud and in this case it’s Cosby,” he continued.
“This evaluation will buy them more primetime television,” the source continued, referring to Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele.
“It was unconstitutional to require someone to register as an SVP [Sexual Violent Predator] unless a jury found that the person was an SVP beyond a reasonable doubt,” Goldstein told our reporters, referring to the Butler decision.
Just last week Lancaster County Judge Jeffrey Wright ordered a background check and general evaluation on 33-year-old Rafael Saez who was found guilty of sexually abusing a pre-teen girl. The judge in that recent trial did not order a specific evaluation that determines if Saez is deemed a “sexually violent predator.”
Sources who reside in Montgomery County believe the assessment is a tactic to bring the media back for an additional hearing on the assessment.