How The Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Trial Shows How The System Continues To Fail

Ad failed to load

More than 50 years after the first alleged instance of sexual assault perpetrated by Bill Cosby, the actor is finally standing trial. Cosby is charged with allegedly assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004 and as the criminal trial (which began June 5) unfolds, one thing becomes increasingly clear: our justice system is not kind to those who make claims of sexual assault.

For starters, the statutes of limitations, which vary state to state, can be as short as one year and as long as 15 years for sexual crimes — but because many alleged Cosby victims waited over 20 years to come forward, their their alleged abuser cannot be charged. That is a huge part of why out of the over 60 women who've accused Cosby (all of whose claims, Cosby denies), only one woman's story has made it to trial.

The statistics could have foretold this outcome on their own: According to a 2015 study by The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the majority of sexual abusers are unlikely to serve any jail time. In fact, the report claims that approximately 99.4 percent of perpetrators of sexual abuse will not be jailed for their crimes. RAINN also found that it is far more likely that perpetrators of non-sexual crimes are likely to serve time, with statistics pointing to the fact that victims of those crimes are far more likely to report the activity in the first place — an assertion backed up by a 2013 study by the National Research Council which found that 80 percent of sexual assaults go unreported to law enforcement. And with those harrowing statistics about how many of the few reported cases actually result in conviction, it's no wonder victims don't often come forward.

Ad failed to load

During Cosby's sole trial for the alleged sexual assault of Costand, further claims of Cosby's inappropriate sexual conduct are being read in court in an attempt to help build the prosecution's case against the actor. On June 6, witnesses came forward to present corroborate the claims of Kelly Johnson, a woman who alleges that she suffered sexual abuse at the hands of the now 79-year-old entertainer during the 1990s (Cosby has denied these accusations as well). Johnson, her mother, Patrice Sewell, and her lawyer, Joseph Miller, were permitted to take the witness stand to offer details of Cosby's alleged violation of Johnson while she was an employee of the William Morris Agency, according to Jezebel.

Johnson, once known as "Prior Alleged Victim 6" in past documentation related to the accusations, was the only previous alleged victim allowed to testify in the criminal case against Cosby, according to the LA Times. During their respective testimonies, Johnson, Sewell, and Miller spoke in detail about Johnson's worker's compensation claim against Cosby that was launched back in 1996 when the allegations were first lodged against the famed actor. The accounts not only detail many accusations of forced sexual conduct, but were seemingly consistent with those of other Cosby accusers, including Constand; all three witnesses spoke of Cosby giving his alleged victims drugs or alcohol prior to the claimed assault. According to NBC News, Johnson, who first went public with her story under the pseudonym "Kacey" in 2015, claimed that she was feeling "paralyzed" and "helpless" as Cosby allegedly raped her. She further detailed her fear about speaking out, claiming: "I was very afraid because I have a secret about the biggest celebrity in the world at that time and it was just me, just me and my word against his."

However, despite the details explained by witnesses during Day 2 of the trial, and the fact that Johnson reportedly broke down crying while testifying, Johnson's allegations were met with disparaging remarks from Cosby's defense team, including claims that Johnson's story was inconsistent with remarks she made back in 1996. According to a report from NBC News, Cosby's defense lawyer Brian McMonagle appeared to discredit Johnson, asking her, "‘Did anyone tell you to get selective amnesia for this case?" Additionally, portions of her mother's testimony were deemed inadmissible from the record by the judge in the Constand case, as noted by Page Six.

Ad failed to load

What's most notable here is that no part of this story should be surprising. Look at any sexual assault case in the last few years and you will find defense lawyers attempt to discredit the alleged victims, poke holes in their stories, and question the timing of alleged victims' decisions to come forward. It's no wonder statistics like RAINN's find that few perpetrators of sexual assault are ever brought to justice.

The Cosby case is ongoing, but here's hoping that the trial and its conclusion will continue to shine light on the obstacles presented by an imperfect justice system.

Editor's Note: This article and its headline have been modified from their original versions.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Here's Where Your Next Trip Should Be, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

If you've been craving a vacation, now is a good time to take the plunge. According to data collected by travel site Expedia, late winters and early spring are pretty much the best times of the year to go on vacation. Based on average airfare ticket …
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

Bustle's Editors On Jennifer Aniston + Adam Rippon

We've made it to Friday! It's been a pretty hectic week, and the news that Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux are splitting up might have put a damper on your weekend. But, if like many people you have Monday off, hopefully you can sit back and enjo…
By Rachel Simon

This Timeline Of Justin Theroux & Jennifer Aniston's Relationship Will Break Your Heart All Over Again

Just one day after Valentine's Day, actors Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux announced their breakup after seven years together. The celebrity couple, who were married for two-and-half years, separated quietly at the end of last year. This week, th…
By Priscilla Totiyapungprasert

19 Things Your Parents Told You Were Illegal In The '90s

Kids say — and think — the darnedest things. We have overactive imaginations, adults like to mess with us, and we don't always understand everything we hear. That's why some kids call strawberries "straw babies" — a boo-boo so adorable, you don't eve…
By Megan Grant

Why Uggs Are Never Going Away, Whether You Like Them Or Not

Uggs. The word alone can conjure up memories of teenage years, regrettable outfits, and undeniable comfort. But if, like me, you thought that you've already said goodbye to those fleece-lined tan boots, you can think again. It seems fashion has adopt…
By Lauren Sharkey

I Never Want To Write This Essay Again

I don't know where you were when you heard about Wednesday's high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. I don't know what you were doing, or how you tried to process the news. I do know this: you thought to yourself, not again. And yet, again. Of cou…
By Jenny Hollander

Netflix's New Romantic Movie Will Have You Crying Like It's 'The Fault In Our Stars'

Cancer movies are a heartbreaking staple of Hollywood and have been for decades. It's almost a law of nature: new year, new cancer movie. This year, it's Netflix's Irreplaceable You, a heartbreaking original about a longtime couple who get thrown for…
By Olivia Truffaut-Wong

A Study Suggests Drinking Soda Can Affect Your Fertility — But Don’t Freak Out Just Yet

An awful lot of things can affect fecundability — that is, the probability of conceiving within a single menstrual cycle — but can soda really decrease your chances of getting pregnant? A new study suggests that it might, although it turns out that t…
By Lucia Peters

Here Are All The Terms You Need To Know If You’re Watching Olympic Ski Events Right Now

Every four years the Winter Olympics rolls around to remind me that A) there are so many important Winter Olympic sports, and B) I know virtually nothing any of them. And I know for a fact, I'm not alone, I bet most people don't know what the differe…
By Danielle Colin-Thome

Money Actually CAN Buy Happiness — And Science Figured Out Exactly How Much It Costs

You’ve probably heard the saying “Money can’t buy happiness.” Personally, I’d be more than willing to test out that hypothesis myself, but researchers at Purdue University beat me to it. Researchers found that there is an actual amount of money it ta…
By Katie Mitchell

Kate Middleton Made Sales Of This $1 Secret Accessory Spike & She'll Turn You Into A Believer

There's a royal epidemic going on, people. It's one that causes any and everyone to obsess over the royal family's wardrobe and beauty routines, even if it means breaking the bank to look like them. So a frenzy was expected when Kate Middleton report…
By Summer Arlexis

Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu Have Matching Tattoos & The Story Is So Cute

Olympic season gives people the feels. From those shipping Canadian ice dancing pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to Shaun White's gold medal win on Tuesday, the feels are real. Now, there's another reason to get all up in your emotions. Adam Rippon a…
By Shea Simmons

A New Study Says Being In A Relationship Could Change Your Taste In Wine — Here's How

I’d be willing to bet that for many of you, a nice bottle of wine is awaiting you in your near future — and if you’re planning on sharing that bottle with a partner, there might be more to your choice than meets the eye: According to recent research,…
By Lucia Peters

Carrie Brownstein On Why Even The Obama Era Should Have Enraged You

An icy January morning soon after Hollywood's show of solidarity for the #MeToo movement at the Golden Globes and almost exactly one year into the Trump Administration feels like a momentous time to be sitting across from Carrie Brownstein. The Sleat…
By Samantha Rollins

Here’s What The Upcoming Year Of The Dog Means For Your Chinese Zodiac Sign

On Feb. 16 the world will celebrate the Chinese New Year, welcoming the Year of the Dog in like the good doggo it is — we hope. A new year means new zodiac predictions for the 365 days ahead. So, what does the Year of the Dog mean for your Chinese zo…
By Brittany Bennett

7 Signs You're Ready To Get Into A Relationship, According To Experts

It can be difficult to tell when you're ready to start dating again. Maybe you're coming off of a bad breakup, maybe you've just been focused on other things. And, ironically, one of the signs that you're ready to be in a relationship is that you're …
By Lea Rose Emery

I Got A Breast Reduction & It Was About So Much More Than The Size Of My Boobs

As a young teenager, I pretty much reached peak physical maturity overnight. One day I was wearing my first training bra a la Lizzie McGuire, and the next I was sweatily fumbling around a Victoria’s Secret with 32DD boobs, trying to summon up the cou…
By Sierra Taylor Horton

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
via Romper

The 15 Best Fiction Books Of February Feature Tons Of Extraordinary Women

When the cold winds of February blow in, there's nothing I want more than to hide under my covers with a good book. Luckily, there's more than a few fantastic new fiction books coming out this month, so the only tough decision you'll have to make is …
By Melissa Ragsdale

These 10 Drugstore Red Lipsticks Are Under $10 & Actually *Amazing*

I adore makeup. There are few things I like more than getting myself fancied up in the mornings. It's a little ritual I get to do every day that makes me feel prettier and more put together. When my makeup is on, I'm ready to face the world — pun int…
via Romper

17 Moms Reveal The Most Disgusting Part Of Their Pregnancy

Pregnant bodies do weird-ass things. Weird-ass, gross things. I mean, my pregnant body did (twice), and I have long-suspected I'm not alone. So I asked other moms to share the most disgusting part of their pregnancy and I learned that, not only am I …
via Romper