As It Happens

Cosby accuser credits Andrea Constand's perseverance, #MeToo for guilty verdict

Patricia Steuer was among the first women to bring allegations against the comedian back in 2015.

Patricia Steuer was among the 1st women to bring allegations against the comedian in 2005

Andrea Constand reacts after the Bill Cosby guilty verdict was delivered in the Cosby sexual assault retrial case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Penn. (Mark Makela/Reuters)
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Patricia Steuer credits the power of the #MeToo movement for the guilty verdict against comedian Bill Cosby.

Cosby, 80, could end up spending his final years in prison after a jury concluded Thursday that he sexually assaulted Toronto native and Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. 

The verdict came after a two-week retrial in which prosecutors put five other women on the stand who testified that Cosby drugged and violated them, too.

Steuer was among the Hollywood star's first accusers, alleging he drugged and assaulted her in 1978 and separately in 1980 when she was an aspiring singer.

The Tiburon, Calif., woman was one of 13 Jane Does who corroborated Andrea Constand's allegations in a civil case against Cosby, in 2005. That case was settled out of court in 2006.

She spoke to As It Happens host Carol Off about the verdict. Here is part of what she had to say. 

When you learned the news that Bill Cosby had been found guilty today, how did you react?

I couldn't quite believe it. I was stunned. I stood there in disbelief for a few moments.

I was in a pharmacy picking up prescriptions with my husband, and he's the one who told me, and I threw my arms around him and I started to cry and he started to cry.

What became of the allegations that you brought against him?

I told three people, including the man who is my husband, about what happened to me after it happened. But all three of them advised me not to come forward because they didn't think anyone would believe me.

Patricia Steuer, one of Bill Cosby's accusers, testified anonymously in a civil case against him in 2005. (Submitted by Patricia Steuer)

Why did you become involved in this civil case that  Andrea Constand brought against Bill Cosby in 2005?

For 25 years I thought I was the only woman he'd ever done this to, so when she came forward and tried to have him criminally charged, it was a huge thing for me.

I came into couple's therapy that day very agitated and the therapist looked at me and said, "Why are you agitated today? What's going on?"

And I told her what Cosby had done. I had never told a therapist about it.

And she looks me right in the eye and says, "This is not your fault. This man is a predator. If you would like to testify on behalf of this woman Andrea Constand, I will get in touch with the [district attorney] and we will arrange for you to do that anonymously."

But the district attorney in Pennsylvania at the time would not charge Mr. Cosby.

So Andrea Constand had no choice but to file a civil suit against him, and I was still willing to testify because I wanted her to know that she wasn't alone.

But Mr. Cosby didn't want us all to testify in court for good reason. He didn't want 13 Jane Does to testify. So he settled with Andrea.

And at that moment, we were all effectively silent because there was no social media. We didn't know each other's names. There was no way to get in touch with one another. So that's how it ended.

Bill Cosby departs the Montgomery County Courthouse after the first day of his sexual assault retrial Norristown, Penn. The Cosby Show star was found guilty Thursday of drugging and molesting a woman in 2004. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Until there was, of course, the criminal case that went to trial for the first time last year and failed with a hung jury. What's your sense of why the jury found him guilty in this trial?

The five fellow survivors, or sister survivors, who were allowed to testify about prior bad acts by Mr. Cosby — I'm sure that made a difference this time.

And then there's the cultural impact the #MeToo movement, which has shaped the interpretation of the culture and the human beings who live in the culture.

Even though the judge admonished the jury not to allow what was happening culturally to alter their deliberations about this particular case, they're human beings. So they have been changed as a result of the culture being changed.

Protesters shout outside the courthouse during Cosby's trial. (Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images)

What do you think, also, of Andrea Constand herself? What strengths did she bring to this case as a person, as you observed how she comported herself during this trial?

I think she's someone of equanimity.

And she is courageous, and she's inspiring, and she's persevered throughout this when other people would have given up a long time ago.

I have had two phone conversations with her in which we have never spoken about what happened to each of us. We have just thanked each other for being in each other's lives.

I thanked her for coming forward in the first place, and she thanked me for being one of the Jane Does. 

My sense of her is that her heart is huge, that she's a very quiet, unassuming person and that this was never about notoriety or fame or any of those things.

This was about justice — whatever that justice was going to be.

Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from Associated Press. Interview produced by Jeanne Armstrong. Q&A edited for length and clarity.