Since the 1960s, scores of women have been quietly, and not-so-quietly, accusing comedian Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them. In some cases, though, when presented with evidence, police and DAs chose not to move forward with charges against America’s No. 1 dad. But one victim, Andrea Constand, did what none of the others have been able to: take him to trial…and win.
Because of the statute of limitations, which is as little as three years in many U.S. states, it’s too late for many of Cosby’s accusers to go after him criminally. But Constand’s attack occurred in Pennsylvania in 2004, and the statute of limitations there is 12 years.
The District Attorney maintains that Cosby is a serial abuser, and he said he owed it to Constand to see that he is punished.
Who is Andrea Constand? This wiki will delve into the life of the media-shy Andrea Constand and the events that led up to her allegations and trials.
Who Is Andrea Constand?
Andrea Constand was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on April 11, 1973. Her father, Andy, is a massage therapist and her mother, Gianna, is a medical secretary. She also has an older sister.
Constand attended Albert Campbell Collegiate Institute in Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto. She was a standout basketball player at the high school in the 1980s, scoring an average 30 points per game. She also played on Canada’s junior team and development team. Constand had her sights set on the U.S. and becoming the first Canadian to play in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).
The astute Constand excelled academically, and secured a sports scholarship to study and play basketball at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Just like in Canada, Constand excelled in the U.S. Her on-court prowess attracted attention; she averaged 10 points per game and in her senior year helped the Wildcats win the National Invitation Tournament.
“I’m on a mission,” Constand said in a 1997 interview before leaving for Italy to play on Canada’s team in the World University Games. “First to help Canada do well, then to play basketball in Italy and finally crack a spot on a team in the WNBA.”
Constand played professional basketball in Europe for 18 months, then returned to her native Toronto in 1999 to train for another shot at playing in the WMBA. The 6’0″ Constand took a job working in a Nike store, and finished her degree before taking a job as a coach in a friend’s teen basketball program.
Unfortunately for Constand, the WNBA never came calling. Instead, she was recruited by Temple University’s then new woman’s basketball coach, Dawn Staley, to join her at the Philadelphia-based university as director of operations for the women’s team.
Temple Brought Constand into Bill Cosby’s Orbit
Bill Cosby graduated from Temple with his bachelor’s degree in 1971. While there, he played basketball and was inducted into the Temple Athletics Hall of Fame. When Constand arrived, he was also on its board of trustees.
It didn’t take long for Cosby to admit he was romantically interested in Constand, who was 35 years his junior. For her part, Constand said they were nothing more than friends, which included visiting Cosby at his house in Philadelphia and Manhattan, going for dinner, and exchanging gifts.
She alleged Cosby tried hitting on her three times, and each time she rebuffed his sexual advances. Constand did not tell Cosby she is a lesbian and was in a relationship. Cosby later said he remembered those three occasions, but claimed she did not reject his advances.
January 2004: Cosby Sexually Attacks Constand
In January 2004, Constand said Bill Cosby invited her to his sprawling Cheltenham home, just outside Philadelphia. She arrived at 8:45 p.m. and told Cosby that she was thinking about changing jobs, and that the decision had drained her. Cosby poured Constand a glass of wine and went upstairs. He returned a few minutes later with, what Cosby called, “three friends;” three blue pills that he said were herbal —would make her feel good and “take the edge off.”
“Down them. Put them down. Put them in your mouth,” Cosby said.
Constand swallowed the pills and, at Cosby’s urging, took a sip of wine. After talking for 20 to 30 minutes, Constand’s vision blurred, and she found it difficult to talk. She then told Cosby that she couldn’t talk.
She later told police that her legs were “rubbery and like jelly.” She lost sense of place and time, was “in and out” of awareness, “frozen” and “paralyzed.” Everything became blurry and dizzy.
Constand, who could barely keep her eyes open, was led to the couch by Cosby, who said he was going to let her relax. As he led her to the couch, she was suddenly aware that “his hands were on my breasts.”
“His hands were in my pants and his fingers in my vagina… I also remember him taking my right hand and placing my hand on his penis… I was unable to move my body. I was pretty much frozen.”
Constand woke up at around 4:00 a.m., her sweater was bunched up around her neck, her bra was on backwards and pushed above her breasts. She also said her lower extremities felt “raw.”
Still in a daze, she struggled to get dressed and walked to the front door. Cosby was there, standing at the bottom of the stairs, offering her a blueberry muffin. He walked her to the door, and said, “All right.”
Later, Cosby said that they shared a long night of consensual sex. “I don’t hear her say anything. And so I continue and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped.”
“I go inside of her pants,” Cosby said. “She touches me… She then took her hand and put it on top of my hand to push it in further. I move my fingers. I do not talk. She doesn’t talk. But she makes a sound which I feel was an orgasm.”
Constand drove herself home and decided not to report the incident to police, citing Cosby’s fame and her position as the basketball administrator at Temple as the reasons. Instead, she contacted a lawyer who specializes in sexual assaults.
Four months later, Constand quit her job at Temple and returned to Toronto to study massage therapy.
Constand Files Lawsuit against Cosby for Sexual Assault
On Thursday, January 15, 2005, one year after the alleged rape took place, Constand told her parents Cosby sexually assaulted her. She filed a claim against Cosby with Durham Regional Police in Ontario, who passed it on to authorities in Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, Constand’s mother, Gianna called Cosby to ask him if her daughter’s accusations were true. They spoke on the phone for two hours; Cosby admitted sexual contact occurred and said he would cover any expenses related to therapy, and her education goals.
Authorities in Pennsylvania conducted a month-long investigation; it was only then that Cosby learned Constand is a lesbian. In the end, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania DA Bruce Castor Jr. said charges would not be laid due to “insufficient credible and admissible evidence.”
Castor did, however, encourage Constand to seek “civil remedies.”
Which is exactly what she did. Andrea Constand filed a civil lawsuit against Cosby. Thirteen women, identified only as Jane Does at the time, came forward to say he did the same thing to them.
Cosby settled the civil lawsuit out of court in November 2006 for a reported $3.5 million. The four-day proceedings, which took place in 2005 and 2005, produced nearly 1,000 pages of testimony. The testimony was sealed, and Cosby’s wholesome reputation remained intact.
Cosby’s Comedy Routine Led to Unexpected Charges
With the hush money paid off in 2006, and Constand living quietly in Canada, Cosby’s life was pretty uneventful. And perhaps it would have stayed that way had he not been quite so vocal on a cross-country speaking tour.
Part of Cosby’s stand-up routine included comments on how African-Americans should behave. That did not sit well with those who knew about Cosby’s background.
On October 16, 2014, comedian Hannibal Buress went onstage in Philadelphia’s Trocadero, a former burlesque house: “Bill Cosby has the f*ckin’ smuggest old-black-man public persona that I hate,” he said. “He gets on TV, ‘Pull your pants up, black people! I was on TV in the 80s! I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom!’
“Yeah, but you raped women, Bill Cosby,” Buress taunted.
The Bill Cosby bit was uploaded to the Internet and went viral, resulting in more and more women coming forward with accusations of rape against Bill Cosby.
Constand’s Confidential Disposition Unsealed
Because of Cosby’s on-stage boasts, his sealed deposition from 2006 was reopened in July 2015.
Federal Judge Eduardo Robreno, in explaining why he agreed to unseal the court filings of Constand’s civil trial, said, “The stark contrast between Bill Cosby, the public moralist and Bill Cosby, the subject of serious allegations concerning improper (and perhaps criminal) conduct, is a matter as to which the [Associated Press]—and by extension the public—has a significant interest.”
The transcripts revealed that Cosby obtained Quaaludes for the purpose of giving them to women he wanted to have sex with. But, he maintained, he never gave a woman drugs without their knowledge.
Cosby also bragged about his sexual prowess, including “digital penetration,” and paying off accusers. He claims to have given Constand one-and-a-half tablets of the antihistamine Benadryl, enough to put her to sleep “right away.”
He then had sexual contact with her, knowing she wouldn’t be fully conscious. Cosby said he interpreted her silence as consent. “I think I’m a pretty decent reader of people and their emotions in these romantic sexual things, whatever you want to call them.”
Again, despite his claims of being “a good reader,” Cosby had no idea, after years of friendship, that Constead is a lesbian.
This statement allowed then Montgomery County DA Risa Vetri Ferman to reopen the investigation. Cosby’s admission moved the charge from a misdemeanour with a two-year statute of limitations to aggravated indecent assault with a 12-year statute of limitations.
Bill Cosby was charged with aggravated sexual assault on December 30, 2015, just days before the 12-year statute of limitations would have run out.
Investigators were sent to Toronto to reinterview Constand. Interestingly, Constand, who is a registered massage therapist at the Sutherland-Chan Clinic in downtown Toronto, did not request that the criminal investigation be reopened. But she “told investigators she would cooperate if asked to do so.”
Cosby’s legal team tried to quash the charges, saying Cosby was protected under a 2005 agreement he made with then Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor Jr., who said Cosby would “never be prosecuted.”
Castor’s successor, Kevin R. Steele, said he was not bound by the previous decision and did not care about a civil settlement.
“Reopening was not a question,” Steele said. “Reopening this case was our duty as law enforcement officers… We examined all the evidence and we made this determination because it was the right thing to do.”
Steele said he believes that Cosby drugged and assaulted Constand. He also holds that the pattern of misconduct led him to bring new criminal charges. “That man,” Steele said, “is a serial abuser. He selects his victims, he gives them an intoxicant and he assaults them.”
June 5, 2017: Judgement Day for Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby went to trial on June 5, 2017 to face accusations that he drugged and sexually assaulted Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. Constand took the stand and gave a disturbing play-by-play account of the alleged rape.
“I was jolted conscious, jolted awake, and I felt Mr. Cosby’s hand groping my breasts, under my shirt,” she recalled. “I felt his hand inside my vagina, moving in and out. And I felt him take my hand, place it on his penis and move it back and forth.”
“Did you ask him to stop?” asked Montgomery County prosecutor Kristen Feden.
“I wasn’t able to,” Constand said. “In my head, I was trying to get my hands to move and my legs to move, and those messages were frozen. They didn’t get there. They were limp and I wasn’t able to get there, to fight, to get away.”
Then, she added, her voice quavering, “I wanted it to stop.”
One of the 13 victims who accused Cosby of sexual assault also testified. The judge would only allow one of the 13 victims to testify. The prosecution was hoping the testimony of the 13 victims would establish a pattern of behavior, which would persuade the jury that Cosby did, indeed, drug and rape Constand in 2004.
Cosby did not take the stand, and thereby avoided having to be cross-examined about his decades-long history of promiscuity and cheating on his wife.
In summation, Brian J. McMonagle, Cosby’s defence attorney, insisted that Constand was lying and that they had a consensual sexual relationship.
Steele observed that, when Gianni called Cosby to confront him about the incident, he apologized and offered to pay for her therapy, schooling, and a trip to Florida to discuss the matter; all of which is evidence he knew that what he did was wrong.
On June 17, after six days of deliberating, the judge declared a mistrial. It is not known how the jury was split in their decision.
DA Kevin Steele said he would put Cosby on trial again. “We will take a hard look at everything involved and then we will retry it,” Steele said, noting that Constand “is entitled to a verdict in this case.”
On that day, Constand tweeted:
— Andrea Constand (@dreconstand2017) June 18, 2017
The next day, in a now-deleted post, Constand tweeted: “Let’s all stay classy plz! That includes anybody who may be inserting their opinion as to whether anything was fully investigated period. [sic]”
New Trial Date Set for April 2, 2018
The second trial was initially set for November, but Judge Steven T. O’Neill pushed the date back so Cosby’s new legal team could prepare their defense. The retrial was set to begin on Tuesday, April 2 at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown.
After being unsuccessfully defended at the first trial, Cosby replaced his attorney, Brian McMonagle, with Tom Mesereau. Mesereau is best known for successfully defending Michael Jackson against child-molestation charges in 2005.
Where Cosby’s first legal team called just one witness to the stand, it was expected that Meserau would make use of additional witnesses for the second trial. According to the New York Post, Cosby’s lawyer was looking to put Foxwoods Casino Resorts manager, Thomas Cantone on the stand. Cosby said that Cantone would say Constand went to Cosby’s hotel room willingly and brought him gifts, lit a fire, and “cozied up in a bed with him.”
Constand, now 44, previously testified that she sat on Cosby’s bed because there was nowhere else to sit. And even if someone was there willingly, they can always change their mind.
Another witness, Temple employee Marguerite Jackson, said Constand told her she could “set up” Cosby and get a big payday. Constand denies knowing Jackson.
April 26, 2018: Bill Cosby Found Guilty of Sexual Assault
Guilty, guilty, guilty. Three words read by the jury foreperson that sealed the fate of one of the most celebrated entertainers in American history. After deliberating for 14 hours over two days, the seven-man, five-woman jury found the iconic entertainer guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his tony mansion in Elkins Park, a suburb of Philadelphia, in 2004.
After the verdict was read, the courtroom erupted into cheers. Two women who were victims of Cosby, but did not testify at trial, burst into tears.
Cosby did not react when the verdict was read; he simply sat stiffly in his chair. Minutes later, prosecutors asked the judge to revoke Cosby’s bail, noting that the 81-year-old is a flight risk and has a private plane.
Cosby, who had sat quietly throughout the entire trial, stood up and yelled, “He doesn’t have a plane, you asshole!”
Perhaps Bill Cosby’s true colors had emerged.
Steven T. O’Neill, the presiding judge, did not revoke Cosby’s $1.0-million bail but ordered him not to leave his home in Elkins Park.
“What was revealed through this investigation was a man who had spent decades preying on women that he drugged and sexually assaulted, and a man who evaded this moment right here far too long,” said Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele. “He used his celebrity, he used his wealth, he used his network of supporters to help him conceal his crimes.”
Tom Mesereau, Cosby’s attorney, said he plans to appeal “very strongly.”
“We are very disappointed by the verdict. We don’t think Mr. Cosby’s guilty of anything and the fight is not over,” he added.
Immediately after the trial, Andrea Constand took to Twitter to thank prosecutors for their hard work:
A very profound and heartfelt thank you to the Commonwealth of PA, Montgomery County, for their service and sacrifices.
— Andrea Constand (@dreconstand2017) April 27, 2018
Cosby was fitted with a GPS tracking device and confined to the same Pennsylvania mansion where he drugged and raped Andrea Constand.
Universities Revoke Cosby’s Honorary Degrees
It didn’t take long for Cosby’s guilty verdict to result in a backlash. Hours after the verdict, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh said it was rescinding the honorary degree it awarded him in 2007.
“Carnegie Mellon University has long had a clear and unwavering commitment: The university will not tolerate sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking or sexual harassment. These acts are against the law and violate our core values,” the university said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the University of Notre Dame in Indiana said it was revoking the honorary degree it awarded him in 1990.
“While certainly troubled by serious, public accusations made by multiple women against him, the University elected to wait until due process had been afforded the accused, and a verdict delivered, before rescinding the honor,” said university president Rev. John I. Jenkins in a statement.
Wesleyan University and Yale also revoked honorary degrees.
Cosby’s alma mater, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he was once a member of the board of trustees, was not as forthcoming. It said the verdict “provides additional facts for the University to consider with respect to Bill Cosby’s honorary degree.”
On May 3, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expelled Bill Cosby and director Roman Polanski. They are the first members to be expelled for violating a conduct code the Academy adopted in December 2017.
“The Board continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity,” the Academy said.
Days later, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts took the unprecedented step of rescinding the honors it had awarded Cosby. In a statement, the Kennedy Center said it gives awards “to artists who, throughout their lifetime of work, have left an indelible impact on American culture.”
“As a result of Mr Cosby’s recent criminal conviction, the board concluded that his actions have overshadowed the very career accomplishments these distinctions from the Kennedy Centre intend to recognise.”
Bill Cosby received a Kennedy Center Honours prize for performing arts in 1998. In 2009, he won the center’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humour.
Is a Successful Appeal Possible?
Cosby’s defense team is going to mount a fierce appeal, saying the retrial was a “public lynching.” But do they have any grounds? It appears they might. Many lawyers not connected to the case think they have a good chance.
During the trial, prosecutors put five women on the stand to testify that they, too, were abused by Bill Cosby. But the strategy that helped convict the disgraced TV star could backfire.
Christopher Adams, a well-heeled celebrity defence attorney, said the judge’s decision to allow the “prior bad acts” testimony could have tainted the jury.
“It’s one thing if they looked at one or two, but five? He wasn’t charged with being a serial assaulter,” he said.
Andrea Constand Finally Opens up about That Night
In June 2018, Andrea Constand appeared on a special edition of Dateline, “Bringing Down Bill Cosby: Andrea Constand Speaks.”
In it, Constand opened up about the night she was drugged and raped by Bill Cosby. It was the first time in 13 years that she had spoken about that night.
Constand said Cosby offered her some pills to help her relax.
“Three blue pills. And he put his hand out and I said, ‘What are those?’ And he said, ‘They’ll help you relax,'” she recalled. “And I said, ‘Are they natural? Are they, like, a herbal remedy?’ And he said, ‘No, they’re your friends. Just put them down.’”
She thought Cosby was her friend. He wasn’t.
Cosby helped her to the couch, and then sexually assaulted her.
“My mind is saying, ‘Move your hands. Kick. Can you do anything? I don’t want this. Why is this person doing this?’ And me not being able to react in any specific way,” she said. “So I was limp. I was a limp noodle.”
The following morning, she drove herself home, took a shower, and cried. Then she went to work.
Bill Cosby Sentenced to up to 10 Years in Prison
On Tuesday, September 25, 2018, Bill Cosby learned his fate. The man once known as America’s dad was sentenced to three to 10 years in a state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his secluded Pennsylvania mansion in January 2004.
Cosby, 81, declined to speak to the court prior to being sentenced.
Pennsylvania Judge Steven O’Neill said, “This was a serious crime. Mr. Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The day has come, the time has come.”
Neither Camille, his wife, nor any of his children were in court that day.
For the remainder of his life, Cosby will be classified as a “sexually violent predator.” This determination includes lifetime registration, mandatory counseling, and community notification that a sexually violent predator lives in the neighborhood.
Andrea Constand Writes Victim-Impact Statement
Andrea Constand submitted a five-page victim-impact statement ahead of Cosby’s sentencing. It was entered into evidence as part of the hearing and was made public on Tuesday, September 25.
Constand’s letter: “To truly understand the impact that the sexual assault has had on my life, you have to understand the person that I was before it happened.” pic.twitter.com/dKxwo8UmW7
— Laura McCrystal (@LMcCrystal) September 25, 2018
What follows is Constand’s full victim-impact statement.
To truly understand the impact that sexual assault has had on my life, you have to understand the person that I was before it happened.
At the time of the assault, I was 30 years old, and a fit, confident athlete. I was strong, and skilled, with great reflexes, agility and speed. When I graduated from high school in Toronto, I was one of the top three female high school basketball players in Canada. Dozens of American colleges lined up to offer me basketball scholarships, and I chose the University of Arizona.
For four years, I was a shooting guard on the women’s basketball team, scoring up to 30 points a game. It was an amazing time in my life, and I learned a lot, developed a circle of really good friends, many of them teammates, and traveled around the US to compete.
The only down side was that I missed my family, and developed severe homesickness. When it started to affect my studies and my training, my Dad came up with the idea to move his own father and mother to Tucson.
My grandparents were in their late 60s when they gamely agreed to move more than 2,000 miles to help me adjust to life away from home. They were retired after selling their Toronto restaurant business, and figured the warm, dry climate would suit them anyway. I had always enjoyed a special relationship with my grandparents. Not only had I grown up in their home, but I spoke Greek before I spoke English. They got an apartment close to mine, and I was there most days, talking and laughing over my favourite home-cooked meals. The homesickness quickly evaporated.
After I graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Communications, I signed a two-year contract to play professional basketball for Italy. Going pro took my athletic training to a whole new level. Once again, I thrived in the team atmosphere, and enjoyed traveling Europe although we rarely saw more than the basketball venues and the hotel rooms where we slept.
When my contract ended, my former coach from the University of Arizona encouraged me to apply for a job as Director of Operations for the women’s basketball team at Temple University in Philadelphia. It was a busy, challenging position that required me to manage a lot of logistical details so that others could focus on training the team for competition. I also made all the travel arrangements and went to tournaments with the team and support staff.
It was a great job but after a few years, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the healing arts, my other passion. I also wanted to work closer to home, where I would be reunited with my large, extended family, and many friends.
I knew who I was and I liked who I was. I was at the top of my game, certain that the groundwork provided by my education and athletic training would stand me in good stead whatever challenges lay ahead.
How wrong I was. In fact, nothing could have prepared me for an evening of January, 2004, when life as I knew it came to an abrupt halt.
I had just given my two-month notice at Temple when the man I had come to know as a mentor and friend drugged and sexually assaulted me. Instead of being able to run, and pretty much do anything I wanted physically, during the assault I was paralyzed and completely helpless. I could not move my arms or legs. I couldn’t speak or even remain conscious. I was completely vulnerable, and powerless to protect myself.
After the assault, I wasn’t sure what had actually happened but the pain spoke volumes. The shame was overwhelming. Self-doubt and confusion kept me from turning to my family or friends as I normally did. I felt completely alone, unable to trust anyone, including myself.
I made it through the next few weeks by focusing on work. The women’s basketball team was in the middle of the Atlantic 10 tournament, and was traveling a lot. It was an extremely busy time for me, and the distraction helped take my mind off what had happened.
When the team wasn’t on the road, however, I was in the basketball office at Temple, and was required to interact with Mr. Cosby, who was on the Board of Trustees. The sound of his voice over the phone felt like a knife going through my guts. The sight of the man who drugged and sexually assaulted me coming into the basketball office filled me with dread. I did everything my job required of me but kept my head down, counting the days until I could return to Canada. I trusted that once I left, things would get back to normal.
Instead, the pain and anguish came with me. At my parents’ house, where I was staying until I got settled, [I] couldn’t talk, eat, sleep or socialize. Instead of feeling less alone because I was back home with my family, I felt more isolated than ever.
Instead of my legendary big appetite and “hollow leg” — a running joke in my family — I picked at my food, looking more like a scarecrow with each passing week. I was always a sound sleeper but now I couldn’t sleep for more than two or three hours. I felt exhausted all the time.
I used the demands of my new courses to opt out of family gatherings and events, and to avoid going out with friends. As far as anyone could tell, I was preoccupied with my studies. But the terrible truth about what had happened to me — at the hands of a man my family and friends admired and respected — was swirling around inside me.
Then the nightmares started. I dreamed that another woman was being assaulted right in front of me and it was all my fault. In the dream, I was consumed with guilt, and pretty soon that agonizing feeling spilled over into my waking hours too. I became more and more anxious that what had happened to me was going to happen to someone else. I grew terrified that it might already be too late, that the sexual assaults were continuing because I didn’t speak out.
Then one morning I called my mother on the telephone to tell her what had happened to me. She had heard me cry out in my sleep. She wouldn’t let me put her off, and insisted that I tell her what was wrong. She wouldn’t settle for anything less than a complete and truthful explanation.
Reporting the assault to the Durham Regional police in Toronto only intensified the fear and pain, making me feel more vulnerable and ashamed than ever. When the Montgomery County District Attorney outside Philadelphia decided not to prosecute for lack of evidence, we were left with no sense of validation or justice. After we launched civil claims, the response from Mr. Cosby’s legal team was swift and furious. It was meant to frighten and intimidate and it worked.
The psychological, emotional and financial bullying included a slander campaign in the media that left my entire family reeling in shock and disbelief. Instead of being praised as a straight shooter, I was called a gold digger, a con artist, and a pathological liar. My hard-working, middle-class parents were accused of trying to get money from a rich and famous man.
At the deposition during the civil trial, I had to relive every moment of the sexual assault in horrifying detail in front of Mr. Cosby and his lawyers. I felt traumatized all over again and was often in tears. I had to watch Cosby make jokes and attempt to degrade and diminish me, while his lawyers belittled and sneered at me. It deepened my sense of shame and helplessness, and at the end of each day, I left emotionally drained and exhausted.
When the case closed with a settlement, sealed testimony and a non-disclosure agreement, I thought that finally — finally — I could get on with my life, that this awful chapter in my life was over at last. These exact same feelings followed me throughout both criminal trials. The attacks on my character continued, spilling over outside the courtroom steps, attempting to discredit me and cast me in [a] false light. These character assassinations have caused me to suffer insurmountable stress and anxiety. which I still experience today.
I still didn’t know that my sexual assault was just the tip of the iceberg.
Now, more than 60 other women have self-identified as sexual assault victims of Bill Cosby. We may never know the full extent of his double life as a sexual predator but his decades-long reign of terror as a serial rapist is over.
I have often asked myself why the burden of being the sole witness in two criminal trials had to fall to me. The pressure was enormous. I knew that how my testimony was perceived, that how I was perceived, would have an impact on every member of the jury and on the future mental and emotional well-being of every sexual assault victim who came before me. But I had to testify. It was the right thing to do, and I wanted to do the right thing, even if it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.
When the first trial ended in a mistrial, I didn’t hesitate to step up again.
I know now that I am one of the lucky ones. But still, when the sexual assault happened, I was a young woman brimming with confidence and looking forward to a future bright with possibilities. Now, almost 15 years later, I’m a middle-aged woman who’s been stuck in a holding pattern for most of her adult life, unable to heal fully or to move forward.
Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it. He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature, and my trust in myself and others.
I’ve never married and I have no partner. I live alone. My dogs are my constant companions, and the members of my immediate family are my closest friends.
My life revolves around my work as a therapeutic massage practitioner. Many of my clients need help reducing the effects of accumulated stress. But I’ve also trained in medical massage at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and often help cancer patients manage the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. I help many others too — people with Parkinson’s, arthritis, diabetes, and so on. Some of my clients are in their 90s. I help them cope with the ravages of old age, reducing stiffness, aches and pains.
I like my work. I like knowing that I can help relieve pain and suffering in others. I know that it helps heal me, too. I no longer play basketball but I try to stay fit. Mostly, I practice yoga and meditation, and when the weather is warm, I like to pedal my bike up long steep hills.
It all feels like a step in the right direction: away from a very dark and lonely place, toward the person I was before all this happened.
Instead of looking back, I am looking forward. I want to get to the place where the person I was meant to be gets a second chance.
I know that I still have room to grow.
I would like to acknowledge some of the people who have helped me get here today. I will always be grateful for their counsel, friendship and support.
First of all, my lawyers, Dolores Troiani and Bebe Kivitz. These two smart, courageous women have been there for me since the beginning. Without them, I would never have been able to navigate this legal and emotional minefield.
I will also be eternally grateful to Kevin Steele, the District Attorney of Montgomery County, who had the guts to believe in me, in the truth, and for trusting that the justice system could get things right — even if the process had to be repeated. I also want to thank Mr. Steele’s incredible team of professionals, including assistant district attorneys Kristen Feder and Stewart Ryan, detectives Richard Shchaffer, Mike Shade, Harry Hall, Jim Reape, Erin Slight, Kiersten McDonald, victims services, and many others, for their passion for justice, their skill, and their hard work and perseverance despite the odds.
Thank you to the jurors for their civic duty and great sacrifices.
Thank you to all of the friends, old and new, who have stood by me. You know who you are, and each and every one of you has made a huge difference. Please know that.
Last but not least, I want to thank my incredible family: my mother, Gianna, and my father, Andrew, my sister Diana, her husband Stuart, and their beautiful daughters — my nieces Andrea and Melanie. Thank you for proving over and over again that if there’s one thing in life you can always count on, it’s family.