Responding to Cosby release, Pa. senators introduce legislation requiring written non-prosecution agreements

Pennsylvania Politics
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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Senators Lisa Baker (R – 20) and Steve Santarsiero (D – 10) announced they’ll introduce legislation that will require all future non-prosecution agreements to be in writing to be enforceable.

The intent comes in response to the results of Commonwealth v. Cosby, where the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated the criminal convictions of Cosby for aggravated indecent assault.

In the Cosby case, the Court based its decision that certain inculpatory testimony, given at an earlier civil trial, was admitted at Cosby’s subsequent criminal trial. The Court concluded the testimony was provided only after an enforceable oral non-prosecution agreement was entered, and Cosby relied on it. And that violated Cosby’s due process rights.

“The recent Supreme Court decision in Commonwealth v. Cosby highlighted a need for clearer rules regarding the prosecution of crimes, Sen. Santarsiero said. “Requiring that non-prosecution agreements must be in writing will protect the due process rights of the accused, while helping to ensure that victims have access to justice.”

“The oral agreement may be legal for the moment, but it is indefensible given what we have learned about the prevalence of sexual abuse and harassment throughout our society,” Sen. Baker said. “The system is slanted too heavily toward perpetrators, discouraging reporting, and denying a true chance of justice for those with the fortitude to bring charges.”

The two say this “turned into a horrible miscarriage of justice.”

The two serve as the Republican and Democratic chairs of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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