'I didn't feel alone'
Andrea Constand, the accuser at the center of Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial, is speaking out about his release from prison and encouraging other women not to be discouraged from coming forward.
Constand in an interview on NBC's Today said she was "shocked" and "disappointed" to learn Cosby would be released from prison in June, arguing it showed that the American justice system is "flawed." Still, she told Today she doesn't have "regrets" about coming forward to accuse Cosby of sexual assault.
"It was worth it because I didn't feel alone," she said. "I had a whole community, a whole army, of women and other survivors, strangers, family, friends, who were right there with me. …Bill Cosby walks free, but it doesn't change the fact that my testimony was believed."
Cosby was convicted in 2018 on charges of sexually assaulting Constand. But in June, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his conviction, ruling that an agreement he had with a previous prosecutor prevented him from being charged. On the Today show, Constand questioned how "any credibility" could be given to this previous "backroom handshake" with Cosby, and she said it was "disgusting" to see the comedian celebrating his release, adding, "He's a sexually violent predator."
Constand also told The New York Times that learning Cosby would be released "made me sick," as well as concerned about the "message that it would send to the rest of the world and other survivors, to say, why should I fight for justice, when it ultimately gets stripped down." To those survivors, Constand said she wanted to serve as a "symbol of hope." According to the Times, Constand added some reflections about Cosby's release to her new book, writing, "We cannot let moments of injustice quiet us. We must speak up again and again and again — until we arrive at a moment of real change."