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Bill Cosby ineligible for early prison release over coronavirus concerns

Bill Cosby walks through the Montgomery County Courthouse for day fourteen of his sexual assault retrial, as the jury deliberates for the second day, on April 26, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Mark Makela/Getty Images

Bill Cosby will not be granted an early prison release despite Pennsylvania’s plan to release some convicts to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered the temporary release of the inmates considered to be “non-violent and who otherwise would be eligible for release within the next nine months or who are considered at high risk for complications of coronavirus and are within 12 months of their release.”

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Cosby is serving a three- to 10-year sentence at State Correctional Institution Phoenix after being convicted in 2018 of sexually assaulting a woman.

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“Mr. Cosby is not eligible for release under Gov. Wolf’s order since he was convicted of a violent offence (aggravated indecent assault) and was deemed a Sexually Violent Predator,” Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office spokesperson Kate Delano told Deadline. “So for both of those reasons, he would not be eligible to be released.”

“Based on the criteria exempting sex offenders and knowing his highly publicized case, he would not qualify,” a Department of Corrections spokesperson told the outlet on Thursday.

Cosby’s publicist released a statement Thursday acknowledging the 82-year-old actor’s ineligibility for release.

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“What you heard is absolutely correct,” Wyatt told Deadline. “But, with the surge of the COVID-19 plague and its effects on the health of the elderly, people of colour and the fact that Mr. Cosby doesn’t have the luxury of social distancing (due to his blindness) — makes him a candidate to be released and remanded to house arrest.”

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In late March Cosby’s lawyers were “considering filing a motion” for an early release date for the convicted comedian.His lawyers feared that Cosby would contract the new coronavirus in prison and were hoping that he would spend the remainder of his sentence at home.Cosby’s spokesperson feared he will contract the illness from an inmate or a staff member who is in charge of taking care of him because he is blind.“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),” Wyatt said. “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.”Wyatt continued, “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.”—Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.
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