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Cosby's accusers rejoice over guilty verdict in sexual assault retrial

"We are vindicated, we are validated, and we are now part of the tsunami of women's power and justice," said one accuser, Victoria Valentino.
Image: Andrea Constand leaves court after a guilty verdict was delivered in Cosby's trial
Andrea Constand, center, smiles after the guilty verdict was delivered Thursday.Mark Makela / Getty Images

Andrea Constand left the Pennsylvania courtroom smiling on Thursday after Bill Cosby was found guilty of sexually assaulting her.

“The most important person in this is Andrea Constand," Kevin Steele, the Montgomery County district attorney, said at a news conference after the verdict was announced. "Fourteen years later, it may be easy to forget that she was the first courageous person that stood up in public.”

Constand, the first sexual assault survivor to come forward against Cosby, accusing him of drugging and sexually assaulting her in 2004, was joined by fellow Cosby accusers in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. The retrial came after a hung jury last June, when the jury couldn't make a unanimous decision on the case against the former television and comedy star, once known as "America's dad."

Of his 60 or so total accusers, five women testified in support of Constand, recounting their emotional stories from the stand. As the verdict was announced, his accusers were moved to tears as they embraced each other. Constand hugged the prosecutors. On the opposite side, sat Cosby, quiet, reserved.

"I feel like my faith in humanity is restored," Lili Bernard, an accuser and former "Cosby Show" guest star, said outside the courthouse, crying. She asked people to pinch her because she felt like she was dreaming. "It is also a victory for womanhood, for all sexual assault survivors, female and male."

Constand didn't speak at the news conference following the announcement, but her attorney, Dolores Troiani, spoke on her behalf.

Accusers Caroline Heldman, left, Lili Bernard and Victoria Valentino after the guilty verdict against Bill Cosby was delivered.Mark Makela / Pool, via Reuters

"Although justice was delayed, it was not denied," said Troiani. "You’ve all commented about how calm she is — that’s something she’s had to work out every day since January 2004."

Outside the courthouse, attorney Gloria Allred was joined by Bernard and other accusers to celebrate the outcome of the highly anticipated retrial. Often referencing the recent #MeToo movement, the women talked about justice and resilience. The verdict, accusers said, shows that women are demanding to be heard, and will be heard.

"We are vindicated, we are validated, and we are now part of the tsunami of women's power and justice," said Victoria Valentino, another one of Cosby's accusers. "We are not shutting up and we are not going away."

Janice Baker-Kinney was one of five women called on by the prosecution to take the stand, testifying about her personal experience with Cosby in 1982. She says he gave her two pills that made her fall unconscious, then sexually assaulted her.

She released a statement on Twitter with a message for other women who may have been sexually assaulted.

"I am overwhelmed with joy, relief and gratitude," said Baker-Kinney. "Joy that finally, justice has been served. Relief that the years of this toxic chain of silence has been broken and we can now move forward with our heads held high as survivors and not victims."

Chelan Lasha's story is similar to others'. Lasha testified that she was drugged and molested by the TV star at the age of 17, when she was an aspiring model.

“Thirty-two years of nightmares and tears are over," Allred said in a statement on behalf of Lasha.

Cosby could face up to 10 years in prison and $25,000 in fines for each charge. His sentencing hearing will occur within the next 90 days.