One day after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Bill Cosby's sexual assault conviction, his accusers are speaking out. Heidi Thomas, who called the court's decision "devastating," explained that she "let go of any anger" towards Cosby "years ago," but she still doesn’t forgive the people — and the systems — that allowed him to allegedly abuse 60 women. "I do hold anger for the enablers," Thomas said. "Now we're going to start making some noise, because this is wrong."
Thomas was one of six accusers to testify at Cosby's retrial in 2018. She says that, as a young actress, she was encouraged by her agent to visit Cosby in Reno, Nevada for a "coaching" session in 1984. When she arrived in Nevada, she was taken to a ranch house instead of a hotel. Because this was before cell phones existed, she had no idea where she was.
“I was sexually assaulted and raped at that ranch house. At the time, not being able to remember four days of being there, I figured it was my own brain and psyche trying to protect me,” she told MSNBC on Wednesday. It was decades later, when other accusers started coming forward, that she realised she might have been drugged.
Andrea Constand, who also testified against Cosby, also shared her thoughts on the court’s decision. "Today's majority decision regarding Bill Cosby is not only disappointing but of concern in that it may discourage those who seek justice for sexual assault in the criminal justice system from reporting or participating in the prosecution of the assailant," Constand said in a statement.
Around six years ago, dozens of women came forward with allegations that they had been drugged, assaulted, and raped by Cosby. Almost all of their cases, except Constand's, had passed the statute of limitations. At the end of 2015, he was charged with drugging and raping Constand, but didn't head to trial until 2017. The jury did not reach a verdict, and he went on trial again in 2018. Cosby has admitted to giving Constand several pills the night of the alleged assault, but he has maintained that their encounter was consensual and denied all wrongdoing.
According to The New York Times, the Pennsylvania court ruled in favour of Cosby's release because Montgomery County's then-District Attorney, Bruce L. Castor, Jr., initially wrote that he would not be charging him. "We hold that, when a prosecutor makes an unconditional promise of non-prosecution, and when the defendant relies upon that guarantee to the detriment of his constitutional right not to testify, the principle of fundamental fairness that undergirds due process of law in our criminal justice system demands that the promise be enforced,” said Justice David Norman Wecht.