Bill Cosby was found guilty today of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Less than a year after a jury declared a mistrial in the charges levied against the television star by former Temple University sports administrator Andrea Constand, and in the wake of the #MeToo movement, justice has finally been served in her case.
Constand, who accused Cosby of assaulting her at his Philadelphia home in 2004, is one of dozens of women who have come forward in recent years with allegations against Cosby that date back decades. In 2015, New York magazine published testimonials from 35 women and portrayed them all in an explosive cover story bringing to light the details of their allegations of assault against the comedian; the cover image made waves for featuring an empty chair in recognition of the 11 women who had not told the magazine their stories. Most of Cosby’s accusers describe him drugging them with quaaludes, an accusation he has as much as admitted is true, and levearaging his influence and star power to coerce or force them into sex. Five of Cosby’s accusers also testified against him in Constand’s retrial this month.
After last year’s mistrial, it was rumored that Cosby would go on a campus tour in which he instructed young men on how to avoid rape charges. But instead, a different kind of cultural teaching moment happened: the explosive #MeToo movement took shape and took down some of Hollywood’s most powerful men. Cosby’s retrial came in the wake of a massive reckoning that has ended the careers of producers, actors and even celebrity journalists and broadcasters—and now, after years of diminishing the stories of his survivors, he faces up to 30 years in prison.
“Today is a victory for all survivors of sexual violence,” Angela Rose, executive director of Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment (PAVE), said in a statement today. “Thanks to the courage of Andrea Constand, her family, all Cosby survivors and the legal team, all survivors now know they have a choice not to be silenced, and justice may never again take decades. This trial and verdict is bigger than Bill Cosby, it sets the groundbreaking precedence of the standard of consent. From opening statements to closing arguments, the defense used tactics of victim blaming and shaming. These are tactics that are used to intimidate survivors—but Andrea Constand stood strong and was not intimidated.”
Cosby’s defense strategies have, thus far, relied on victim-blaming and character assassination—in his most recent trial, his defense team called Constand a “con artist” and painted the women testifying against the actor as attention-seeking and money-hungry. In last year’s trial, Cosby’s attorney told the jury that Constand’s rape was her fault, declaring that she wasn’t “acting like she was raped” and that she should have predicted that her interaction with Cosby would end in sex.
Constand, however, maintained that she was pursuing the case not, as Cosby’s lawyers insinuated, for money or attention, but for something much more pivotal—and long forgone—for survivors across the country. State prosecuter Kristin Feden asked her Friday during her testimony why she had brought the case to trial once again.
Her reply? “For justice.”