By Kenny Choi

SAN ANSELMO (KPIX 5) — A North Bay woman who was one of the first to publicly accuse Bill Cosby of sexual assault expressed her disbelief after the onetime actor and comedian’s conviction was overturned Wednesday.

Helen Hayes was one the first women to come out in 2014 accusing Cosby of sexual assault. The San Anselmo resident was alerted early Wednesday about his conviction being overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Cosby has since been released from prison.

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“I thought he was just going to die in there on bread and water. I didn’t care,” Hayes told KPIX 5.

“It just upsets me that it could happen that he can get out. He deserves to be in there. He’s evil,” Hayes went on to say.

One of dozens of accusers, Hayes said she still vividly remembers the night the man once called “America’s Dad” approached her in 1973 at a tennis tournament in Pebble Beach.

“He came up behind me and put his whole body up against the back of my body, and then reached over my right shoulder and grabbed my right breast. And I said, ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing!'” Hayes recalled.

Cosby testified in depositions starting in 2005 as part of a deal made with prosecutors, with the promise it wouldn’t result in criminal charges.

In Wednesday’s decision (.pdf), six of the seven justices in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in favor of reversing Cosby’s sexual assault conviction in 2018.

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According to KPIX 5 legal analyst LaDoris Cordell, it was not because the court believed the TV star was innocent.

“They determined that Bill Cosby had been deprived of a fair trial because his Constitutional right against self-incrimination had been violated,” said Cordell.

Hayes, who is now 86 years old, hopes the latest twist in the Cosby saga doesn’t deter victims of sexual assault to speak up.

“I always thought I was alone. I’m not going to tell anybody. Silence. They’ll think you’re crazy,” said Hayes.

It took her decades to tell her story, but she’s fearless today, no matter what happens to Cosby next.

“When I say evil, it brings tears because he did such awful things,” said Hayes.

Hayes and other women came forward after comedian Hannibal Burress mentioned the allegations against Cosby in a routine that went viral several years ago. She tried to reach out to newspapers and television outlets at first, but then ended up calling and meeting famed attorney Gloria Allred.

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Allred brought together several accusers, including Hayes, in a widely seen and emotional news conference in December 2014.