(PHILADELPHIA) — Andrea Constand, the woman at the center of Bill Cosby’s 2018 sexual assault trial, has called the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s decision to overturn the comedian’s conviction “disappointing” and “of concern.”
In a joint statement with her attorneys Dolores Troiani and Bebe Kivitz, Constand noted that by allowing Cosby to go free, the court may have inadvertently discouraged survivors of sexual assault from “reporting or participating in the prosecution of the assailant.”
The decision could also “force a victim to choose between filing either a criminal or civil action,” the statement continues.
“We remain grateful to those women who came forward to tell their stories, to [District Attorney] Kevin Steele and the excellent prosecutors who achieve a conviction at trial, despite the ultimate outcome which resulted from a procedural technicality, and we urge all victims to have their voices heard,” the statement concludes. “We do not intend to make any further comment.”
The court vacated Cosby’s indecent assault conviction after agreeing last year to hear two points in Cosby’s appeal.
Cosby, 83, was sentenced in 2018 to three to 10 years in prison after he was convicted of three counts of indecent assault for sexually assaulting and drugging Constand in 2004.
The state’s Supreme Court found that Cosby should not have been charged or sentenced in the 2018 Constand case due to the fact that he had previously made a deal with a prosecutor in Constand’s 2005 civil lawsuit.
Cosby was released from prison Wednesday after serving over two years of his sentence.
Read more about how the world is reacting to the development:
Victoria Valentino, one of Cosby’s accusers
Accuser Victoria Valentino said she was “absolutely in shock” by the news of Cosby’s conviction being overturned while appearing on ABC News Live.
“I’m absolutely in shock … my stomach is lurching and I am deeply distressed about the injustice of the whole thing,” she said, calling Cosby “a sociopath” and “a serial rapist.”
“I’m absolutely in shock…My stomach is lurching and I am deeply distressed about the injustice of the whole thing,” Bill Cosby accuser Victoria Valentino says of his release from prison. https://t.co/yuM413mOS1 pic.twitter.com/y4gmnY2pnd
— Good Morning America (@GMA) June 30, 2021
Janice Baker Kinney, one of Cosby’s accusers
Janice Baker Kinney, who is also one of Cosby’s 60 accusers, said she too was “shocked” by the court’s decision.
Bill Cosby accuser Janice Baker Kinney: “I’m shocked..,just one little legalese can overturn this when so many people came forward, so many women have told their truths.” https://t.co/yuM413mOS1 pic.twitter.com/zFFxCsgzP6
— Good Morning America (@GMA) June 30, 2021
“Just one little legalese can overturn this when so many people came forward,” she said. “So many women have told their truth, and this serial rapist gets to go home today is just stunning to me.”
Cosby’s “The Cosby Show” co-star Phylicia Rashad, who played his onscreen wife, reacted to the news, writing, “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”
Attorney Gloria Allred commended those who “bravely testified” in Cosby’s criminal cases.
“Despite the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision, this was an important fight for justice,” she said. “Even though the court overturned the conviction on technical grounds, it did not vindicate Bill Cosby’s conduct, and it should not be interpreted as a statement or a finding that he did not engage in the acts of which he has been accused.”
In a tweet, actress Amber Tamblyn said she was “furious” to hear the news. “I personally know women who this man drugged and raped while unconscious. Shame on the court and this decision. #TimesUp #MeToo,” she wrote.
Tamblyn followed that up by voicing that there’s still more work to be done, adding, “Our justice system MUST change.”
I don’t want to hear anything about how cancel culture ruined men’s lives during the MeToo era reckoning for women and survivors. How we went too far. Today’s news that Cosby’s conviction is being overturned is proof we haven’t gone far enough. Our justice system MUST change.
— Amber Tamblyn (@ambertamblyn) June 30, 2021
Actress Debra Messing expressed her sympathies for the alleged victims of Cosby.
To every woman who was sexual assaulted by #BillCosby my heart hurts for you today and I am full fury. It’s horrifying.
— Debra Messing✍???? (@DebraMessing) June 30, 2021
Comedian Kathy Griffin said in a tweet that she was “discouraged” by the news of Cosby’s release.
WHEN will things get better for women and girls regarding sexual assault, sexism, misogyny and ageism?
What will it take?
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) June 30, 2021
Lisa Bloom, a lawyer who represents three of the Cosby accusers, reacted to the news on Twitter, saying she and her clients are “disgusted that he is a free man today.” Bloom called the decision to release Cosby a “kick in the gut to victims and their advocates.”
“Every day I fight for sexual assault victims and have to advise them of the ugly truth: the system still massively favors the rich and powerful,” she tweeted. “You need a superhuman level of strength and courage. Luckily many victims have it.”
The 3 Bill Cosby accusers I represent and I are disgusted that he is a free man today.
He is not released because he is innocent.
He is released because a prosecutor promised him years ago that he would not be brought to justice, without even making a deal for him to do time.
— Lisa Bloom (@LisaBloom) June 30, 2021
Tarana Burke, #MeToo founder, and Dani Ayers, CEO of me too.
Tarana Burke and Dani Ayers issued a joint statement reflecting on what the Cosby news means for survivors of sexual violence. Read the full statement below:
“Today’s decision is not only triggering for those who have experienced sexual violence and its emotional and physical consequences; it is a miscarriage of what little accountability survivors are afforded by our legal system. While many will use this moment to focus on single, bad actors, this decision to overturn Bill Cosby’s conviction reminds us that we are forced to contend with a flawed criminal-legal system that was created in support of patriarchal standards, with the goal to maintain dominance, power and control.”
“Almost four years ago, the hashtag #MeToo went viral and ignited a global movement that gave rise to a new wave of stories of sexual violence, powered by solidarity, empathy and seeking healing for generations of survivors. We created me too. International to undergird the work of this global movement and interrupt and ultimately end sexual violence. It is within that work that we prioritize the disruption of dominant narratives that will frame the abuser as the victim, and the abused as the villain.
“Our focus has been and will remain on survivors. We stand strong in solidarity with them, center the need for healing for all who are impacted by this news, and reject the damaging and diminishing stories that will emerge from this decision about who the survivors are and what they deserve.”
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.