By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Since his 2018 conviction on charges of aggravated indecent assault, Bill Cosby has maintained his innocence, even vowing never to “admit to something I didn’t do” during a potential parole board hearing.
“My conviction is bigger than me,” stated Cosby, who calls Black History Month “The Month of Our People.”
“It’s about every Black man and woman in America — if this judicial system can wrongfully convict me without any evidence of a crime and without any proof but he/she said it happened, then the average Black person with no means and/or resources don’t stand a chance to get a fair trial.”
Cosby, 83, declared that he’s using his voice and celebrity to bring light to his fellow residents at SCI-Phoenix, the Pennsylvania prison where he is housed.
He said he wants to help others who have been wrongfully convicted, due to prosecutorial misconduct, witness tampering and by other means.
Cosby’s longtime publicist Andrew Wyatt called it remarkable that the comedian has taken a backseat to his own legal woes to help others, while waiting for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to render an opinion on his appeal.
The Court heard compelling testimony in December related to Cosby’s claim that the ex- Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor granted him “immunity” from prosecution in the case where former Temple University employee Andrea Constand accused him of assault.
Castor, who is now representing former President Donald Trump in his impeachment proceedings, told the Black Press that Cosby should never have been charged in the case.
The high court also heard arguments from Cosby’s lawyers that he warranted a new trial because Judge Steven O’Neill allowed five women to testify to previously uncharged, unproven accusations of wrongdoing from decades ago.
The women who testified at Cosby’s trial could offer no evidence or proof that made their allegations credible, Cosby’s attorney argued.
The ‘Cosby Show’ star is now blind and doesn’t have the ability to review filings of fellow inmates, but many at SCI-Phoenix have told Cosby that they also are innocent.
“For this reason, Mr. Cosby heard the same story from a fellow resident that he immediately took a liking too. Anthony “Benny-Do” Sutton, who has served 38 years of a mandatory life sentence for murder,” Wyatt told the Black Press.
Cosby has leaned on his outside legal team and publicist/crisis manager to review Sutton’s Post Conviction Relief Appeal – or PCRA.
He noted the claims of potential prosecutorial misconduct and that a witness in Sutton’s trail recanted his testimony.
Wyatt said Cosby isn’t claiming Sutton is innocent, but he does believe that if the evidence doesn’t meet the conviction, then Sutton deserves a second chance at freedom.
On Saturday evening, Sutton spoke to the Black Press about Cosby and why the entertainer is fighting for him and others when Cosby has his own legal issues.
In the discussion with the Black Press, Sutton appears as concerned about Cosby’s freedom as his own.
“The old man has had a huge impact on us men here inside, and a lot of people didn’t think that he would have the influence that he’s had,” Sutton, who respectfully refers to Cosby as “The old man,” remarked in a phone call from SCI-Phoenix, the sprawling 128-acre prison complex just outside of Philadelphia where he and Cosby are jailed.
“The way he’s enlightened us, the way he’s encouraged us to stand up and be men in the community …and he shouldn’t even be in here,” added Sutton, who also has a son incarcerated at SCI-Phoenix.
Despite his near lifelong contributions – financially and otherwise – to religious leaders and organizations that promote social and economic justice for all kinds of people, Cosby has received little public support from those whom he has bankrolled.
But Sutton and other inmates have in many ways filled that void. And Cosby continues to enjoy the support of the Brothers of Sh’ma Yisrael Hebrew Israelite Congregation in New York.
Cosby paid tribute to the Sh’ma Yisrael congregation in a tweet this week.
“I would like to personally thank these great men and teachers of God’s scriptures for standing by and supporting me with the truth and the facts,” the comedian tweeted about the Brothers of Sh’ma, particularly singling out Na Hasi and Prince Nat.
“Please watch these brothers … Shabbat Shalom to my brothers and sisters Dina, and her mother, Verita, and her sister. Thank you very much, and I can feel your prayers,” Cosby wrote.
At SCI-Phoenix, Sutton helps lead Mann Up, a prison program designed to help change African American men’s lives with long sentences.
The program empowers and encourages Black males to be better fathers, husbands, and community members.
Cosby, who is not a member, has provided a significant boost to the program, Sutton told NNPA Newswire.
“The old man got us together and told us that a man is judged by how he treats his mother and how he treats his wife and family. He has instilled in us that a man cannot be considered a man if he doesn’t provide,” Sutton continued.
“He comes in here, and he doesn’t act like he’s better than anyone. He keeps it simple. Look, he is a political prisoner. He is in here not for a crime, but adultery. But he does not look for favors, and with all his money and resources, he has nothing more than what we have, no extras when he could easily have extras.”
Sutton has endeared himself to Cosby, who directed his team outside to assist Sutton in preparing the inmate’s appeals.
Since Cosby’s 2018 conviction, the debate has raged on whether the star’s legacy and his hit 1980s sitcom, The Cosby Show, was worth preserving.
But a May 11, 1992, Los Angeles Times article noted that Cosby is personally responsible for the employment, encouragement, and artistic support of more Black writers than anyone in television history.
Cosby confirmed that we could genuinely raise and educate our kids to be racially proud and socially responsible human beings, the article continued.
“Cosby showed blacks could be well-to-do and possess commensurate class. He showed that a black man could not only get a job but also that he and his wife can have thriving professional careers,” the Los Angeles Times published.
At SCI-Phoenix, Sutton recalled meeting Cosby behind bars for the first time.
“I said to him that I wanted to ask a favor. I said I need you to give me your word that you would come over on a Saturday and sit in on the Mann Up organization. And he told me, ‘Benny-Do, if God let me live, I’ll be there,’ “Sutton recollected.
” I told him we were putting an organization together where we could change the narrative, that we could go home and be decent people, decent citizens, and decent neighbors and change our way of thinking in our way of living. So, Mr. Cosby came over, and he heard me MC the program.”
“I introduced him, and there were 420 people there, and we all gave him a standing ovation. He is a man who went through the Jim Crow Era and the marches for civil rights of the 1960s. He mentioned that he is blind and said he could not see us, but he created such an atmosphere for us to enlighten us with his wisdom. He had everyone’s attention. He’s had a hell of an impact.”