Bill Cosby is a convicted rapist, and for that matter, a disgraced sexual assault icon. At age 82, he is serving a three- to 10-year prison sentence for drugging and molesting Andrea Constand in 2004. Constand endured the story; testified before a grand jury, spoke to police, was deposed in the decade-long civil lawsuit against Cosby. A decade later, a jury awarded her $3.4m for her “wrongful” assault.
The downside to her ordeal, though, was that Cosby got away with it. As I reported in 2016, the credibility of Constand’s case, backed by Cosby’s own statement of recklessness – he admitted sleeping with under-age women – was a tough case to make. It wasn’t enough to convict him beyond a reasonable doubt, in Pennsylvania’s unusual Qui Tam hearing system.
Constand was free to testify in person about her story, just as a byproduct of her civil suit against Cosby. She got off relatively easy, despite being the only accuser among 13 others to give a sworn statement. (The showman also admits having slept with many women who were underage.) When Cosby testified in his defamation suit against Constand, he said, “If I were lying in bed, dreaming about Andrea Constand, I would be very upset.” He was quoted as saying his sexual interactions with the woman began “extremely well” after she was 18. Constand was her own complainant.
The irony here, of course, is that the charge against Cosby stems from her testimony. Despite making his career predicated on loosely defined manhood and out there comedy, after the 2004 incident, Constand’s deposition included these admissions. She claimed she felt depressed, ashamed, and described the night as “frightening” and “sad”. This was a side of her Cosby hadn’t been allowed to disclose publicly in his criminal trial, though the statement reportedly formed part of the basis for the Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, prosecutor’s legal argument.
It’s hard to overstate just how hard it would be to take these bizarre admissions – and the entire reason the National Enquirer reported Cosby admitting to sleeping with young women – out of context. In her deposition, Constand said she believed Cosby was more like a mentor than a friend: “I would have trusted him with my wellbeing.” Nevertheless, the justice system didn’t let that stop Constand. She told a grand jury that when Cosby knocked her out with the pills, she saw a smile on his face, held him down and said he would be happy to see her “happy”. On one occasion, she claims, Cosby even went as far as kissing her on the lips, to her horror.
Constand’s survivor’s group has more directly responded to the state of affairs with this open letter. It reads:
Many people may not agree with what Ms Constand had to say at the time she said it. After all, it is her story. Her own words. And she was forced to admit it under oath. But we believe in the principle of making victims whole by making Cosby’s decision to victimize Andrea Constand pay.
That courage cost Constand. Cosby scored a win in his civil suit and, on Thursday, was again a free man. Constand spent more than a decade trying to get money from him, to no avail.