Bill Cosby’s Sexual Assault Verdict Is Exactly Why Women Don’t Report Rape

by Hannah Rose

The sexual assault trial against Bill Cosby resulted in a mistrial, further reinforcing that the justice system is broken. Nearly 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault, and their stories date back to to 1960s, when Cosby first began his comedy career. While most accusations are outside of the statute of limitations, a 2004 incident reported by Andrea Constand – previously a Temple University women’s basketball team director of operations – led to Cosby’s 2015 indictment of 3 felony counts related to the assault.

According to Slate, Constand testified at the criminal case that when she went to Cosby’s house for career advice (she had considered him to be a mentor), Cosby gave her 3 blue pills (which he suggested were herbal and would help her relax), she lost consciousness, then she awoke to being sexually assaulted by Cosby. In her terrifying account given to court, she said, “In my head, I was trying to get my hands to move or my legs to move, and I was frozen. I wasn’t able to fight. I wanted it to stop.” Cosby said the sexual acts were consensual and that he merely gave her Benadryl. Let me tell you, Benadryl will knock my ass out, but it won’t cause paralysis, and for those in the “Well, she took the pills voluntarily” camp (akin to the “Well, look what she was wearing” camp), taking a pill voluntarily (Benadryl or not) doesn’t give someone the right to sexually assault you when you’re unconscious or incapable of resisting.

In Constand’s 2005 civil suit against Cosby – yes, it took more than 10 years to bring this case to a criminal trial – Cosby explicitly acknowledged that he kept Quaaludes to give to women to have sex with them. Now, a mistrial doesn’t necessarily mean the jurors think Constand is lying and Cosby is innocent – the jurors made multiple requests to clarify terms like “without her knowledge” and “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” – but what it does mean is that even if you’re guilty as fuck (let’s be real) you can avoid conviction via technicalities.

The mistrial has the potential to send a message to victims of sexual assault everywhere that speaking out against the offender, an act that is immensely difficult in itself, doesn’t lead to justice – especially when the accused has the help of fame, fortune, and an expensive legal team. In fact, the Washington Post reported that Bill Cosby’s spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, stated before cameras after the verdict that “Mr. Cosby’s power is back.”

Even when literally dozens of women accuse a powerful man of sexual assault, justice still isn’t achieved. The next time someone asks, “Why didn’t she report it?” just point them to Bill Cosby. 

Top photo: New York magazine

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What Does It Take For Sexual Assault Survivors To Get The Justice They Deserve?

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