On Thursday, while celebrating that a jury found the famed comedian guilty on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, Bill Cosby accuser Lili Bernard hailed the verdict as a "victory for womanhood." Flanked by her supporters outside the courthouse, an impassioned Bernard said, "I stand here in the spirit of Martin Luther King who said that arc of the moral universe is long. But today it has bent toward justice."
In recent history, more than 50 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault; the comedian has denied all allegations of non-consensual sexual conduct. Bernard is one of those accusers. In 2015, she held a news conference in New York City while she was accompanied by her attorney Gloria Allred. Bernard said that Cosby raped her while she was starring in the famous Cosby Show as "Mrs. Minifield" in the 1990s.
According to Bernard, Cosby said that he would mentor her. "He praised me. ... He lifted me up. I believed him. After all, he was Bill Cosby," she said. "After he had won my complete trust and adoration, he drugged me and raped me."
Bernard also said that in 1992, Cosby told her, "As far as I'm concerned, Bernard, you're dead. Do you hear me? You're dead, Bernard. You don't exist. I never wanna see your face again. Now get the hell out of here."
On Thursday, the visibly overwhelmed actress thanked the jury for its conclusion. She said that last year's deadlocked jury left her feeling a "tremendous sense of disappointment." In 2017, during Cosby's first assault trial, the jury failed to arrive to a unanimous verdict.
Last year's deadlocked jury dismayed Bernard, who said on Thursday, "It became evident to me that the justice system was light years behind modern culture. But today this jury has shown what the #MeToo movement has said: Women are worthy of being believed. And I thank the jury. I thank the prosecution."
The actress touched upon the subject of race, as well. "I looked at that jury and there was this one young black man in that jury who I looked upon as my son. And I know the disappointment that he felt in looking at a beloved, black, male, iconic father figure and being able to yet render a guilty verdict. I thank him," Bernard said.
"I thank all the jury; this is a victory not just for Andrea Constand whom I consider to be the Joan of Arc in the war on rape. It is not just a victory for the commonwealth. It is not just a victory for the 62 of us publicly known survivors whom Gloria Allred has helped give a voice. It is also a victory for womanhood and it is a victory for all sexual assault survivors. Female and male," she said.
Bernard also thanked the media for reporting on the Cosby trial. She said, "You are the pillars of democracy. Without you, none of this would have happened."
After Bernard made her comments, Allred thanked the jury as well and said that "justice has been done." She described the challenges women faced in court and said that the jury chose to believe the accusers. For that, Allred said, the jury had her gratitude.
"It took a great deal of courage," Allred said, "In the beginning, many were not believed. We are so happy that finally we can say women are believed and not only on #MeToo but in a court of law where they were under oath, where they testified truthfully, where they were attacked, where they were smeared, where they were denigrated, where there were attempts to discredit them."
"After all is said and done," the attorney said, "women were finally believed."