After more than 50 women came forward with horrific stories of alleged druggings and rapes over the course of more than 30 years, Bill Cosby may finally face a jury. Prosecutors in Pennsylvania announced today that Cosby will be charged with aggravated indecent assault, a felony in the first degree, stemming from allegations made 10 years ago by the first woman to publicly accuse the comedian and actor.
But is one lone felony charge more than 11 years after the fact likely to bring even a small amount of justice to one of Cosby’s many alleged victims? According to statistics from the FBI and the Department of Justice compiled by RAINN, for every 100 sexual assaults, there are seven arrests and only three are referred for prosecution. Only two lead to a felony conviction. The odds aren’t in this victim – or any victim’s – favor when it comes to the courts.
But at least there’s some hope.
Andrea Constand, then working for the basketball program at Temple University, alleges that in 2004 Cosby gave her pills that he said were herbal relaxers and some wine that subsequently incapacitated her. According to the charges, Cosby – who current Montgomery County, Pennsylvania first assistant district attorney Kevin Steele says that Constand considered a friend and mentor – digitally penetrated Constand while she was “unable to move or respond”. Cosby will be arraigned on Wednesday afternoon.
Prosecutors declined to filed charges in 2005 and Constand settled a civil case out of court with Cosby in 2006, but in a press conference on Wednesday, Steele said that the charges filed now were, in part, due to the newly released deposition relating to Constand’s civil case. In his deposition, only publicly released this year after Cosby’s lawyers had it sealed, Cosby admitted to getting a prescription for Quaaludes for the purpose of giving them to women he wanted to have sex with.
“There’s not a question in terms of pills being provided to [Constand], there’s not a question in terms of a question of what went on in terms of the digital penetration,” Steele said.
“The evidence is strong and sufficient to proceed.”
Steele declined to comment on why charges weren’t filed 10 years ago, but in October 2015 Constand filed a civil lawsuit against the former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor.
There’s no doubt the charges are a win for the women who have made allegations against Cosby – and for women in general. But it shouldn’t take dozens of women saying the same thing over and over again for action to be taken against someone who might be a serial rapist.
Even now, with so many women coming forward publicly to tell their stories – which are remarkably, but not surprisingly, similar – there are people who refuse to believe that a beloved public figure could be guilty of such horrible crimes. That, of course, is part of the problem: it is frequently abusers’ charm, success and likeability that shield them from legal and social consequences.
Source: The Guardian | Jessica Valenti