On Thursday, April 26th, fame, fortune, victim blaming, and lack of evidence could not sway the jury in Bill Cosby’s second criminal trial for several counts of sexual assault in the case of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William Cosby.
The famous actor and comedian, Bill Cosby, was found guilty of 3 counts of felony level aggravated assault: including one count of penetration with lack of consent, one count of penetration while unconscious, and one count of penetration after administering an intoxicant. The first trial for such charges, which was last year, ended in a hung jury, as a unanimous verdict could not be reached.
This was the second criminal trial against Cosby, which began on April 9th, in which Cosby faced allegations from former Temple University (Cosby’s alma mater) employee Andrea Constand. Constand described Cosby as her mentor at the time of the incidents. This business relationship collapsed the moment that Constand accused Cosby of drugging her and sexually assaulting her in 2004 when she visited his home for a meeting. During Constand’s testimony, Cosby’s legal team attempted to paint her in a disparaging light by calling her a con-artist, a drug user, and a lesbian. Five victims testified at the trial on her behalf and many of them were also attacked and blamed by Cosby’s legal team during their testimony.
It is of note, that since such accusations by Constand, over 60 women have come forward and accused now 80-year-old Cosby of harassing, drugging, raping and sexually assaulting them.
At the conclusion of the verdict reading, there were a multitude of emotions displayed in the courtroom, which ranged from cheers to tears and Cosby ultimately cursing at the Prosecutor. This reaction is likely because Cosby now faces up to 30 years in prison; 10 for each count, but will most likely serve the sentences concurrently. He was released yesterday on $1 million bail. He does still face not only sentencing in this case, but also several civil lawsuits stemming out of the facts of this case.
This verdict is a significant victory for all victims of sexual assault and harassment, both male and female. This verdict makes it clear that the #MeToo sweeping social movement is providing courage to those sometimes hopeless and scared victims to come forward and to speak about how they were violated and by whom. The result additionally shows that all victims, when credible, will be believed, both inside and outside of the courtroom. Finally, the Cosby trial demonstrates that sexual assault and harassment does happen at alarming rates and also that these behaviors are often rooted in an inequity in power, rather than motivated by pure sex and lust.