Bill Cosby was found guilty Thursday of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004.
While the trial focused on Cosby’s assault of Constand, a former employee of the Temple University women’s basketball team, she is not alone in accusing the 80-year-old comedian of sexual assault.
More than 50 women have spoken out against Cosby — who faces up to 30 years in prison — and many of them expressed joy on Thursday following the verdict. Cosby, through his lawyers, has repeatedly denied their accusations.
Here’s what some of them had to say.
“I feel like I’m dreaming,” said Lili Bernard, one of Cosby’s accusers, outside the courthouse Thursday. “I feel like my faith in humanity is restored.”
In a press conference, Bernard evoked Martin Luther King Jr., saying “the arc of the moral universe is long, but today it has bent towards justice.”
“Last year when I was sitting in the courtroom of the first trial and the verdict was hung, I left with such a tremendous sense of of disappointment,” she said. “And it became evident to me that the justice system is light years behind modern culture. But today this jury has shown that what the MeToo movement has (been) saying is that women are worthy of being believed. And I thank the jury. I thank the prosecution.”
The victory, Bernard said, doesn’t exclusively belong to Constand or Cosby’s accusers. “It is also a victory for womanhood, and it is a victory for all sexual assault survivors, female and male.”
“I just want to thank DA (Kevin) Steele and his amazing team and all of the people who believed in us every step of the way,” said Victoria Valentino, a former Playboy playmate who accused Cosby of raping her in the late 1960s after he gave her pills at dinner.
“We are so grateful to all of you, and thank you, thank you, thank you. We are vindicated. We are validated, and we are now part of the tsunami of women’s power and justice.”
“We are not shutting up,” Valentino said, “and we’re not going away. Get over it.”
“I’m stunned,” Patricia Steuer told CNN Thursday afternoon. “This is not something I expected in my lifetime, and I’m also elated. I’m elated for Andrea and I’m elated for all the women who have been affected in their lives by this kind of event.”
Steuer, who said Cosby assaulted her twice more than 30 years ago when she was an aspiring singer, said she believed the culture surrounding sexual assault and harassment has changed a lot since the close of the initial trial.
“When I came forward in 2005, I thought I was the only one until Andrea Constand tried to have him charged the first time,” Steuer said, her voice thick with emotion. “I can’t tell you how amazing it was to know that I was not alone anymore, after 25 years of living with this.”
“I hope it’s empowered women,” Steuer said of the verdict. “I hope they know now that this is proof that they don’t have to stay silent anymore.”