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.
— CNN (@CNN) April 26, 2018
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.
Andrea Constand stands with her arms around her civil attorney who conducted that devastating deposition of Bill Cosby in 2005 where he admitted procuring quaaludes to give to young women to have sex pic.twitter.com/vKNz1MNSGd
— Claudia Rosenbaum (@CJRosenbaum) April 26, 2018
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"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."
"It is our hope that today's verdict will be the first in a long line of decisions that hold powerful men responsible for the misogynistic and violent treatment of women that they have gotten away with for far too long." -- @msfoundation on #BillCosby verdict
— Alanna Vagianos (@lannadelgrey) April 26, 2018
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.
Next time anyone asks you "why didn't she come forward sooner?" remember the twelve years that women spent coming forward about Cosby. & the women who told their stories about Trump's forced tongue and octopus groping in October, just before he was elected president in November.
— Rebecca Traister (@rtraister) April 26, 2018
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.
Today, justice has been served because of the bravery of Andrea Constand, Janice Dickinson, and numerous other survivors who testified. Over the years, FIFTY-SEVEN women have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault. These are their stories: https://t.co/oXjnoyPiAc #MeToo
— UltraViolet (@UltraViolet) April 26, 2018