A Pennsylvania jury found comedian Bill Cosby guilty of all three counts of aggravated indecent assault Thursday, sparking emotional reactions from many of those inside the courtroom. Video of Cosby's accusers leaving the courtroom in tears of relief after the verdict was read suggests they may feel that the once-beloved actor finally got what he deserved.
According to The New York Times, several of Cosby's accusers cheered briefly inside the courtroom as the verdict was read while the comedian sat quietly. Many of them continued to celebrate the verdict outside the courthouse as an important victory for all sexual assault survivors in the #MeToo era.
"I feel like I'm dreaming," Lili Bernard, who alleged in 2015 that Cosby had drugged and raped her in the 1990s while she was a guest star on The Cosby Show, told reporters outside the courtroom Thursday. "This is a victory not just for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, not just for the victim in the case Andrea Constand, not just for the 62 of us publicly-known survivors of Bill Cosby's drug-facilitated sexual crimes against women, but it's also a victory for all sexual assault survivors, female and male. It's a victory for womanhood and I thank the jury so much."
Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents some of the comedian's accusers that were allowed to testify against him at his trial, said her clients were grateful that the jury had seen past Cosby's defense team's attempts to paint his accusers as liars eager to cash in on a celebrity.
"Justice has been done," Allred said in a statement delivered outside the courtroom. "We are so happy that finally we can say women are believed and not only on [social media under the] #MeToo but in a court of law. ... Women were finally believed and we thank the jury so much for that." Allred went on to say she was "the happiest" she had ever been "about any court decision in 42 years."
In a statement given to reporters after the verdict had been read, Bernard said she'd left Cosby's first trial — which ended in a mistrial after a deadlocked jury failed to come up with a verdict — with "such a tremendous sense of disappointment."
"It became evident to me that the justice system is lightyears behind modern culture," Bernard said of her disappointment over Cosby's first trial. "But today this jury has shown what the #MeToo movement is saying — that women are worthy of being believed."
Another one of Cosby's accusers also expressed feeling joy, relief, and gratitude for the verdict handed down Thursday. In a statement shared on Twitter, Janice Baker-Kinney said she was "overwhelmed" with relief "that the years of this toxic chain of silence has finally been broken and we can now move forward with our heads held high as survivors and not victims."
"This may be the end for Mr. Cosby but this victory is just the beginning for many of us, to fight for justice, to do the right thing and support every person who has ever been shamed and humiliated and blamed," Baker-Kinney said. "May this verdict open the floodgates to those who have been hiding their shame for far too long and give them the courage to come forward. You are NOT alone."
Although nearly 60 women have publicly accused Cosby of sexual assault — charges his legal team has vehemently denied — he only faced criminal charges in the case of Andrea Constand, who alleged the comedian drugged and molested her in 2004. Many of his accusers have, however, sued him for defamation, saying he or his legal team made them out to be liars. According to The Times, many of those civil suits were delayed pending the results of Cosby's criminal trial, meaning the actor's legal troubles may not be over just yet.