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

Your Weekend Love Horoscope For May 19-20, 2018

We’re constantly fascinated by what our zodiac sign says about our lives, whether it's which signs are most compatible or how each sign handles conflict in relationships. That's why Bustle has enlisted Mecca Woods, a New York City-based astrologer of…
By Mecca Woods

7 Last-Minute Royal Wedding Party Ideas Worth Waking Up Early For

We're only two days away from the royal wedding, so it's safe to assume Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are finished with their planning (we hope). But if you're a commoner who's procrastinated on planning a watch party, you still have time to decorat…
By Ayana Lage

10 Little-Known British Traditions Meghan Markle Will Learn When She Marries Prince Harry

As an American woman dating a Brit, I am no stranger to the mishaps that can result from the cultural differences between the U.S. and England. And while I'm sure Meghan Markle has a slew of royal traditions to learn, titles to remember, and fancy ha…
By Kristin Magaldi

16 Brand New YA Rom-Coms To Add To Your Summer Reading List

Ah, summer. Post-Memorial Day it's all about being outside in the sunshine, lazy pool days and exciting beach trips, warm weather treats, and — most important of all — tote bags packed to the brim with all of the biggest and best summer reads. Whatev…
By Kerri Jarema

I've Paid $18,000 To A $24,000 Student Loan, & I Still Owe $24,000

It all became real the summer before my senior year of college. It was 2010, and my home phone still had a cord, which I wrapped around my fingers as I waited not-so-patiently for the apathetic representative on the other end to tell me the bad news …
By Kaitlyn Cawley

12 Personality Quizzes That Will Help You Determine Your Exact Strengths

Learning more about yourself can be tough. It's so easy to observe others to learn what makes them tick, what areas they really excel in, and the things they could be better at. Doing that to yourself, however, is a whole different story. That's exac…
By Jessica Booth

5 Brand New Short Story Collections You Can Finish In One Sitting This Weekend

Since 2013, May has been known by book-lovers by another name: Short Story Month. If you're ready to kick off this year's celebration the right way, make sure to pick up a short story collection to read over the weekend. Modern life moves more than …
By Sadie Trombetta

I Got Styled By 'Queer Eye's Tan France & Realized I Still Have A Lot Of Fashion "Rules" To Unlearn

When I walked into a New York City Express store on May 2 to get styled by Queer Eye's Tan France, I was ready for anything. And I mean truly anything. I am such a massive fan of the show and Tan that if he had instructed me to wrap myself in tin foi…
By Olivia Muenter

It Isn’t Bad To Have A “Princess Fantasy” — Mine Made Me The Woman I Am Today

What do you want to be when you grow up? If you were anything like me as a kid, at some point, the answer to that question was "a princess." Thanks to good old-fashioned gender stereotypes, most little girls born in the '90s (and even now) grew up in…
By Nicole Pomarico

9 Mother's Day Gifts For Your Mom That Also Give Back

Mother’s Day is around the corner, and unless you’re the type who’s got gift-giving on lock months in advance — and seriously, who is that person? — you might be scrambling a bit for great Mother's day 2018 gift ideas. And while it’s important to cho…
By Carolyn de Lorenzo

Here’s How To Get A FREE 30-Minute Facial At Sephora That Sucks Your Pores Clean

Sephora has long been a mecca for both serious and amateur beauty lovers alike, where they not only have makeup artists that help answer questions about products, but free samples to let you play with new collections. But now they have upped the ante…
By Marlen Komar

Kris Jenner Is FINALLY Launching A Makeup Line With Kylie

Maybe you don't have a favorite sister of the Kar-Jenner clan, and that's perfectly fine. The one thing you can't deny, though, is that when it comes power, no one in that family has more than the world famous momager. Now, Kris Jenner x Kylie Cosmet…
By Shea Simmons

This Kendall Jenner “Diva” Moment Is Really Being Taken Out Of Context

The fashion always takes center stage at the Met Gala, but there's usually a little drama, too. And this time, a member of the Kardashian-Jenner family is involved. People are buzzing about how Kendall Jenner shoved someone at the Met Gala, but after…
By Nicole Pomarico

Feel Like You've Seen Everything On Netflix? Add These Movies To Your Watch List

The weekend may feel too far away, but if you're lacking formal plans, a Netflix marathon session is always a good idea. If you're an avid viewer, however, you probably feel like you've seen everything the streaming platform has to offer already. In …
By Ashley Rey

These 4 Zodiac Signs Are Going To Have The Best Luck In Love This May

Spring fever is here, but not all signs in the zodiac are dealt the same dose of lovin'. Some signs are going to have a better love lives than the rest of us in May, because that's just the way the cookie crumbles. According to astrologer Linda Furia…
By Kaitlyn Wylde

9 Hacks For Fighting Jet Lag That Actually Work

Jet lag is the worst. There's no doubt about it. And it's only natural to want to find a way to prevent it. Searching for jet lag cures online often means encountering expensive products and sketchy supplements. Luckily, there are ways to train your …
By Eva Taylor Grant

Hillary Clinton Says She's Ready To Fight Like A Republican — EXCLUSIVE

Hillary Clinton Is Not Going Away Quietly. Can Hillary Clinton Please Go Quietly Into The Night? Unlike Losers Before Her, Clinton Is Not Going Gently Into the Night. These headlines, which appeared in various news outlets over the course of the last…
By Catherine Thompson and Jenny Hollander

Here's The Very Best Time To Book Your Summer Vacation If You're Trying To Save Money

Summer is a great time to travel, for obvious reasons. The weather is better. Many offices are more lax about time off. If you have kids, they’re out of school. But there’s one very important element that makes summer not a great time to travel: Cost…
By Emma McGowan