Bill Cosby Accusers Express Outrage After His Sexual Assault Conviction Overturned
Women who came forward to accuse Bill Cosby of sexual assault have said that the decision to overturn his conviction sends a ‘discouraging message to sexual assault survivors.’
Cosby was almost three years into a maximum 10-year prison sentence after he was convicted in 2018 of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting one of his accusers, Andrea Constand, in 2004. He was freed from prison yesterday after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that prosecutors in the case violated the actor’s right to due process.
Assault survivors and campaigners have been expressing their shock and outrage at the decision to allow Cosby to walk free on a technicality, describing the verdict as a ‘sad day for women’s rights.’
Many of Cosby’s accusers and their attorneys have also expressed disappointment at their alleged abuser, including Constand – the central figure in the case – who said that ‘today’s majority decision regarding Bill Cosby is not only disappointing but of concern in that it may discourage those who seek justice for sexual assault in the criminal justice system.’
Other accusers echoed Constand’s concerns, including Patricia Leary Steuer, who alleges that Cosby assaulted her in the late 1970s.
Steuer told CNN:
There were more than 63 of us who came forward in the end… I’m wondering what the purpose was of the 43 years of this ordeal and the trauma that I had and the trauma that my family endured as a result.
I hope this won’t discourage people. It is a discouraging message to sexual assault survivors. I hope it won’t because in the end all you can do is come forward and tell the truth.
Steuer also criticised the criminal justice system, saying it was ‘devised in such a way that it favors powerful and wealthy people.’
In a statement another accuser, Victoria Valentino, said the news had come as a ‘gut punch.’ Valentino, who alleges that Cosby raped her in the 1960s, said the verdict meant there was now a ‘serial predator on the street,’ adding ‘what does that say about a woman’s worth? A woman’s value? Do our lives mean nothing?’
Attorney Lisa Bloom told CNN she was ‘disgusted and shocked’ by the ruling, describing it as ‘a slap in the face for all the victims.’
Campaigners have stressed that despite having his conviction overturned, Cosby was not judged to be innocent by the court. ‘[The] Cosby reversal should not deter survivors from coming forward,’ tweeted NBC legal analyst Barb McQuade. ‘We need to keep exposing sexual abuse to stop predators.’
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact the Rape Crisis England and Wales helpline on 0808 802 9999 between 12pm–2.30pm and 7pm– 9.30pm every day. Alternatively, you can contact Victim Support free on 08 08 16 89 111 available 24/7, every day of the year, including Christmas.
Male Survivors Partnership is available to support adult male survivors of sexual abuse and rape. You can contact the organisation on their website or on their free helpline 0808 800 5005, open 9am–5pm Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays; 8am–8pm Tuesdays and Thursdays; 10am–2pm Saturdays.
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