Andrea Constand, one of the woman who accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault and was the subject of the comedian’s conviction that was overturned on Wednesday, called his release “disappointing” and feared that the decision “may discourage those who seek justice for sexual assault.”
Constand and her lawyers Dolores Troiani and Bebe Kivitz noted in a statement posted to her Twitter their disappointment that the decision Wednesday “precluded a future prosecution” and clarified more as to why Cosby wasn’t prosecuted in 2005.
“We remain grateful to those women who came forward to tell their stories, to DA Kevin Steele and the excellent prosecutors who achieved a conviction at trial, despite the ultimate outcome which resulted from a procedural technicality, and we urge all victims to have their voices heard. We do not intend to make any further comment,” Constand and her team said.
Cosby was released from state prison Wednesday after Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned his conviction stemming from the 2018 felony sexual assault charge. Constand, a former Temple University employee, had accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her at his home in 2004.
The 83-year-old comedian served three years of a three- to 10-year prison sentence. In overturning the conviction, the state Supreme Court ruled that Cosby can’t be retried on the same charges.
He has maintained his innocence on all accusations of sexual assault.
Constand first went to police in 2005, but the district attorney at the time, Bruce Castor, decided not to press charges on Cosby. Constand later settled with Cosby in 2006, but the new DA in Pennsylvania’s Montgomery County in 2015 openly criticized Castor’s handling of the case and managed to arrest him before the statute of limitations on Constand’s case expired. His arrest came about after a past deposition from Constand’s earlier civil lawsuit was unsealed, in which Cosby admitted administering quaaludes and having sex with Constand.
On Wednesday though when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the conviction, their decision was based on whether the judge should have allowed that deposition to be used in the most recent trial after Cosby said he was previously promised by a district attorney that he wouldn’t be prosecuted for those oral and written statements.
But Cosby’s case quickly became one of the most high profile examples of the #MeToo movement, and at least 60 women have come forward to accuse the former entertainer of sexual assault with accusations that date back to the 1960s.
Steele also issued a statement to press on Wednesday, expressing his disappointment that Cosby was released “on a procedural issue.”
“The majority decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court orders the release of William H. Cosby Jr. from state prison. He was found guilty by a jury and now goes free on a procedural issue that is irrelevant to the facts of the crime. I want to commend Cosby’s victim Andrea Constand for her bravery in coming forward and remaining steadfast throughout this long ordeal, as well as all of the other women who have shared similar experiences. My hope is that this decision will not dampen the reporting of sexual assaults by victims. Prosecutors in my office will continue to follow the evidence wherever and to whomever it leads. We still believe that no one is above the law—including those who are rich, famous and powerful.”
Read Andrea Constand’s full statement below:
“Today’s majority decision regarding Bill Cosby is not only disappointing but of concern in that it may discourage those who seek justice for sexual assault in the criminal justice system from reporting or participating in the prosecution of the assailant or may force a victim to choose between filing either a criminal or civil action. On the one hand, the Court acknowledged that the former District Attorney’s decision not to prosecute Mr. Cosby was not a formal immunity agreement and constituted at best a unilateral exercise of prosecutorial discretion not to prosecute at the time, but nevertheless precluded a future prosecution, which included additional evidence developed in the civil case. The Supreme Court acknowledged that it was bound by the lower court’s credibility findings, including that Andrea Constand and her civil counsel, Dolores Troiani and Bebe Kivitz, were not privy to any discussions between the former prosecutor and Mr. Cosby or his then criminal counsel, let alone signatories to any agreement of any kind. We were not consulted or asked our thoughts by Mr. Castor concerning any agreements concerning immunity or anything, and we were not made aware if there were any such discussions. The press release had no meaning or significance to us in 2005 other than being a press release circulated by the then District Attorney. Once again, we remain grateful to those women who came forward to tell their stories, to DA Kevin Steele and the excellent prosecutors who achieved a conviction at trial, despite the ultimate outcome which resulted from a procedural technicality, and we urge all victims to have their voices heard. We do not intend to make any further comment.”Andrea Constand, Dolores Troiani and Bebe Kivitz