More than 50 women have claimed that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them — allegations he has roundly denied — but thanks to the statues of limitations in various states, only one of his accusers was able to bring him to court. The fear of social stigma and accusations of lying have in part caused Cosby's alleged victims to stay silent for years. But the sole woman who was able to press charges, Andrea Constand, is standing up for sexual assault survivors, and according to other Cosby accusers, her courage makes her a hero.
In her powerful courtroom testimony on Tuesday, Constand tearfully explained that she felt "frozen" as Cosby touched her inappropriately after giving her sedatives when the two met in 2002 in his home outside Philadelphia. Cosby denied her allegations, claiming that the encounter was consensual. Constand said she initially remained silent about the incident because she felt "an element of fear." But once she made her allegations public, many other women followed suit.
In a society that often labels sexual assault victims "liars" and "gold-diggers," Constand's testimony is an important reminder that coming forward and sharing your story can send a strong message to others, inspiring them to do the same. In America, around two-thirds of sexual assaults go unreported. But hopefully, Constand's testimony can help to change that figure.
Here's what other Cosby accusers had to say about Constand.
She Has No Fear
Donna Motsinger claims that Cosby assaulted her in the 1970s. Cosby has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.
There's no trepidation, no fear. She is prepared for this moment. ... I really feel like she is the person who is supposed to be there out of all the women. There is nobody better in this moment in my opinion.
She Has Core Values
I know she has the core values and ability to tell the truth and not stammer and not second-guess herself. She's just an incredibly honest person who deserves the ability to speak her truth. I'm really super-proud of her. ... It takes guts.
She Inspired Me To Come Forward
Tamara Green, a retired lawyer, claims that Cosby assaulted her in the 1970s. Cosby has denied Green's allegations, and repeatedly called her a liar. Green publicly spoke about her alleged assault in 2005 — more than 20 years after it reportedly occurred.
When I heard about [Andrea's] experience I didn't rush out and call the media with prurient details ... I called Andrea's attorneys and volunteered to testify ... The interesting thing was women began to call me. My house was full of flowers, and cards and letters. Altogether 14 accusers were accepted, if you like, as witnesses.
She Is Brave
Victoria Valentino, who remained silent about Cosby's alleged assault for years, flew from her home in Los Angeles to Philadelphia to watch the trial. Cosby has denied all sexual misconduct allegations made against him.
Andrea is strong, brave, courageous, and very authentic. I thought she did very well. Last time I was in a room with [Cosby] was the time he raped me. I've been enjoying watching him rub his head and look beleaguered.
She Is Doing This For All Of Us
Janice Baker-Kinney, a former bartender who says she was drugged and sexually assaulted by Cosby in 1982, came forward with her allegations in April 2015. Cosby's then-lawyer, Marty Singer, said in a previous statement that his accusers' "alleged decades-old events are becoming increasingly ridiculous."
I'm looking forward to our day in court. It's for Andrea. In a way, it's our day, too.
She Is A Hero
Heidi Thomas had claimed that Cosby took advantage of her during an acting lesson in 1984. (Cosby has repeatedly denied all allegations against him.)
We're grateful for her bravery. We're so thankful she walked back into this maelstrom. She didn't have to, but she chose to. Whether she intended it or not she's speaking for a whole group of women.
Constand has formed an incredible bond with many of the other Cosby accusers. The women have shared, online and in person, their experiences and tips for moving forward. They have even adopted the symbol of a bright pink gladiolus flower as a symbol of their strength and resilience — a symbol that Constand proudy displays on her tattooed arm. Together, they just may inspire other survivors to see themselves as strong and resilient, too.