“This was a serious crime. Mr Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The day has come, the time has come.”
These words were spoken by Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill upon sentencing Bill Cosby to up to ten years in jail for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home 14 years ago.
The 81 year old actor has been categorised as a sexually violent predator which means he will undergo counselling for life and be listed on the sex offender registry.
His fall from America’s ‘favourite Dad’ to convicted predator has been a long time coming. It is impossible to adequately calculate the damage he has wreaked upon the lives of women.
“Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it,” Andrea Constand said in her victim impact statement in June last year. “He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature, and my trust in myself and others.”
Read Andrea Constand's powerful victim impact statement to #BillCosby in full. She read the statement earlier this summer in a closed session, but it was just made public today. https://t.co/nwtbG2Psbg
— Alanna Vagianos (@lannadelgrey) September 25, 2018
“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.”
The District Attorney Kevin Steele thanked Constand for her courage in coming forward.
“We are all better off because she is in our lives. You’ve heard about how this assault changed her life… To put herself out like this, for years, in front of a worldwide audience is extremely difficult for anyone. She could’ve lived a quiet life but she knew it was important to see that justice was served.”
Indeed. It’s justice that many of his victims never imagined would be served. For most of the 60 women who have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, criminal justice was out of reach due to various statutes of limitations.
When I interviewed #BillCosby accuser Therese Serignese in 2014, I asked what she wanted people to understand:
"What do I want people to know? That he has caused a lot of harm to a lot of women,"… Victims need to know "what happened to [them] mattered." https://t.co/eyPQtvh0vE
— Emma Gray (@emmaladyrose) September 25, 2018
“For decades the defendant has been able to hide his true self and hide his crimes using his fame and fortune,” District Attorney Kevin Steele said. “He’s hidden behind a character… but it was fiction… He used his acting skills, that endearing TV persona, to win over his victims and keep them silent…Someone who has a lot of money, someone who is famous, someone who can get a lot of attention all over the world just by showing up some place to eat shouldn’t get a free pass for his crimes or be allowed to walk free.”
And yet for decades he has been free. While his victims were paid off, dismissed, described as liars and left to suffer, he continued to enjoy all the trappings of privilege and power.
The significance of Cosby’s conviction and sentencing goes beyond Andrea Constand: it has taken decades and a mistrial last year for Cosby to finally be held to account and it represents a seismic victory for every woman who has ever levelled an accusation of assault at a powerful person and been dismissed.
It is incongruent to describe the conviction of a criminal as cause for jubilation but the scenes outside Montgomery Courthouse were jubilant with due cause.
Not only was Andrea Constand finally heard but she was believed.
The day has come. The time has come.
Justice was served.