After two days of deliberations, Bill Cosby has been found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand. These felony counts are each punishable by up to 10 years in state prison.
We applaud the courage of Ms. Constand who has spent years trying to bring a case forward to hold Cosby accountable. This verdict represents that no one, even the most revered celebrities are above the law.
The longevity of these cases represents how challenging it is for victims to find justice. We know that only one in six sexual assaults is reported, with fewer ending in conviction, and even less serving jail time.
According to RAINN(Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), Out of every 1,000 rapes, 310 are reported to police, 57 reports lead to arrest, and only 6 rapists will be incarcerated. 994 perpetrators will walk free.
There is still a long way to go in making our system and society responsive to the issue of sexual violence. This is truly a victory for survivors.
The majority of sexual violence is committed by people survivors know and trust. People who commit acts of sexual violence may abuse celebrity or authority status and the illusion of trust that comes with it. It is important for victims in Rhode Island to know that Day One is available to help victims at any time. Whether it is immediately after an assault or years later. Day One has someone available to speak with 24/7, no matter when the sexual violence occurred. Staff and volunteers are trained to accompany victims to medical facilities, police stations, and legal proceedings and advocate for their needs.
At the heart of every sexual abuse case are the victims. Victims seek justice and show courage and strength in facing their attacker in court. Going through the legal process can be traumatic and the loss of privacy and control over this most intimate part of their life can mirror the loss of control felt at the time of the abuse. This is why advocacy is so important.
The courage of the survivors in this case and so many others is inspiring. After seeing a celebrity held accountable for his actions, more victims may now feel more comfortable reporting their own abuses. Victims should first and foremost be believed if we are to be able to move forward with healing.
We hope this high-profile case will bring more attention to the issue of sexual assault. We encourage the community to visit our website to learn more about the subject of sexual assault and how Day One can help those in need at www.dayoneri.org.
While we know many other victims were not able to achieve what Andrea Constand did today, our hope is that they feel some sense of justice after this verdict.