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In 'Victory for Womanhood,' Jury Finds Bill Cosby Guilty on Sexual Assault Charges

"Women were finally believed."

Bill Cosby accuser Andrea Constand, center

Bill Cosby accuser Andrea Constand, center, reacts after the guilty on all counts verdict was delivered in the sexual assault retrial at the Montgomery County Courthouse on April 26, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images)

In what one survivor called "a victory for womanhood," a jury in Pennsylvania found 80-year-old comedian and "violent assaulter" Bill Cosby guilty of three sexual assault felonies on Thursday.

"I feel like my faith in humanity is restored," Lili Bernard told reporters while stepping out of the courthouse. The verdict, she said, is "a victory for all sexual assault survivors, female and male. It's a victory for womanhood."

"I thank the jurors so much for positioning themselves on the right side of history," Bernard added through tears.

While the slew of sexual assault allegations women have levied against Cosby preceded the rise of the #MeToo movement, the case decided on Thursday, as Anna North at Vox noted, "could be the closest we'll get to a controlled experiment on the power" of the movement.

"This is a notice to sexual predators everywhere... Enough is enough."
—Toni Van Pelt, NOW

"This is a notice to sexual predators everywhere. No matter your position in life, our society will not tolerate such violent behavior anymore. Enough is enough," responded Toni Van Pelt, president of the National Organization for Women (NOW).

This trial centered on Andrea Constand, a former employee at Temple University—Cosby's alma mater—who alleged that Cosby drugged and assaulted her in 2004. Thursday's guilty verdict came after a trial last summer that ended with a deadlocked jury and a civil case that was settled in 2005.

"Justice has been done," declared attorney Gloria Allred, who represents 33 of the more than 50 publicly known accusers of Cosby. "I am the happiest I have been about any court decision in 42 years." Speaking about the difficulties that Cosby's survivors have faced for coming forward and testifying at this trial, she pointed out, "In the beginning, many were not believed." 

"We are so happy that finally we can say 'women are believed'—and not only on #MeToo, but in a court of law where they were under oath, where they testified truthfully, where they were attacked, where they were smeared, where they were denigrated, where there were attempts to discredit them," Allred added. "Women were finally believed."

Rebecca Traister, who writes about women's rights, tied Thursday's verdict to the lack of support that survivors often encounter when publicly disclosing or seeking justice for sex crimes committed against them, and acknowledged the women who have accused President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct.

When Cosby's legal team was asked whether they planned to appeal the decision, attorney Thomas Mesereau remarked, "Yes, very strongly." Cosby's three aggravated indecent assault charges are punishable by a maximum of 10 years in state prison each, though the sentences could be served concurrently.

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