The lesbian Temple University employee who was able to finally put Bill Cosby behind bars after decades of accusations from 60 women said that it’s “disappointing” that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated his conviction and set him free.
Cosby was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004 when she worked with the university’s women’s basketball team, and in 2018 a jury found him guilty on three second degree felony counts of aggravated indecent assault. But the state’s supreme court just overturned that conviction.
“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 from reporting,” she said in a statement that was also signed by her lawyers Dolores Troiani and Bebe Kivitz.
“We remain grateful to those women who came forward to tell their stories,” the statement continues. “We do not intend to make any further comment.”
Our statement. pic.twitter.com/px4Y5cqYaZ
— Andrea C. she/her/they/them (@ConstandAndrea) June 30, 2021
Sixty women have accused Cosby of sexual assault, many saying that he drugged and then raped them. Many weren’t taken seriously in time to prosecute Cosby.
The same almost happened to Constand, a Canadian basketball player. She said that Cosby was like a mentor to her when she worked at Temple.
In 2004, she said she went to his house and he gave her Quaaludes but told her they were an “herbal supplement.” That’s when he started to touch her.
“I wanted it to stop. I couldn’t say anything,” she said. “I was trying to get my hands to move, my legs to move, and the message just wasn’t getting there. I was weak, I was limp and I couldn’t fight him off.”
She woke up at 4 a.m., naked.
When she first went to the authorities, the Montgomery County district attorney at the time, Bruce Castor, decided not to prosecute and issued a press release saying that he would not do so.
Constand then sued Cosby. He admitted in depositions for the civil suit that he had obtained Quaaludes without any intention of taking them himself and that he had given them to women he wanted to have sex with. He also admitted that he knew this was illegal. He and Constand settled the case, and his testimony was sealed.
In 2014, comedian Hannibal Buress brought up the multiple accusations against Cosby in his act in a video that went viral. Attention returned to Cosby’s history of alleged violence against women, with prosecutors who were more sympathetic to victims than in previous decades, although the statute of limitations had run out in the case of most of the accusations against him.
But not in Constand’s.
Constand was able to get Cosby’s testimony from the civil trial unsealed and that was used against him when the new Montgomery County DA, Kevin Steele, filed charges in 2015, which eventually led to a conviction and a sentenced to three to ten years in prison.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated the conviction yesterday, ruling that Cosby’s rights were violated because Castor’s press release led Cosby to believe that he could not be prosecuted. Not only is Cosby free, but the court barred “any future prosecution on these particular charges.”
Cosby “was found guilty by a jury and now goes free on a procedural issue that is irrelevant to the facts of the crime,” Steele said in a statement yesterday. “I want to commend Cosby’s victim Andrea Constand for her bravery in coming forward and remaining steadfast throughout this long ordeal, as well as all of the other women who have shared similar experiences.”
“My hope is that this decision will not dampen the reporting of sexual assaults by victims. Prosecutors in my office will continue to follow the evidence wherever and to whomever it leads. We still believe that no one is above the law-including those who are rich, famous and powerful.”