The Current

Andrea Constand says she'll fight to 'close the legal loopholes' after Bill Cosby's conviction was overturned

Andrea Constand's new memoir The Moment: Standing Up to Bill Cosby and Speaking Up for Women, which comes out this week, details the years-long legal saga.

'It's up to me to be an advocate ... so that something like this never happens again,' Constand says

Actor Bill Cosby was convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting Canadian Andrea Constand in 2018, before that conviction was overturned in June. (David Maialetti/The Philadelphia Inquirer/Associated Press)

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Andrea Constand says she was overwhelmed when members of the jury told her, "We believed you," after Bill Cosby's 2018 sexual assault trial, in which he was convicted. 

"I think I had tears streaming down my face and my body was just vibrating on a whole other level," said Constand, who was among 60 women to accuse the former star of The Cosby Show of sexual assault.

"That was really what I needed to hear in order to truly start my healing process. I just needed to hear that I was believed."

Constand's new memoir The Moment: Standing Up to Bill Cosby and Speaking Up for Women, which comes out this week, details the years-long saga.

In 2018, Cosby was convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting Constand in 2004, and sentenced to 10 years. He served three years in prison before that conviction was overturned in June. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the prosecutors who brought the case were bound by a prior decision not to charge Cosby. There was no evidence that promise was ever put in writing. 

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The option to grant people immunity should fall to judges alone, Constand told The Current's Matt Galloway.

"I don't think district attorneys should be able to make decisions based on a handshake and give criminals immunity."

After his release, Cosby tweeted an old photo of himself with his fist raised and eyes closed, with the caption: "I have never changed my stance nor my story. I have always maintained my innocence." He also thanked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court "for upholding the rule of law."

Constand said she doesn't know if she'll ever understand the decision to release Cosby, but she's instead focusing on the work of the #MeToo movement to support other victims of sexual assault, and "close the legal loopholes." 

"It's up to me to be an advocate, to start to fight, to change the laws, to put legislation in place so that something like this never happens again."

She told The Canadian Press she's donating a portion of her earnings from her memoir to Hope, Healing and Transformation, a foundation she started to provide supports for survivors of sexual violence. 

Confronting Cosby

Constand met Cosby through her work as director of operations for the women's basketball program at Temple University in Philadelphia. She said their relationship was initially professional, but became friendlier over time, as he showed an interest in her personal life and career. 

On Jan. 6, 2004, she went to his house to discuss a career move she was considering.

"That came to be, you know, the night I sat down and, you know, accepted three small blue pills, which I thought were a herbal remedy from Cosby," she said. 

"And I ended up on the couch that night, unconscious, in and out of consciousness, with the most disturbing things happening to me."

She awoke the next day overcome with "shame and disgust," and feeling like "a completely different person," she said.

"I think overnight I had just lost my trust, lost my faith in people and, you know, had to deal with the aftermath immediately of what happened to me."

Bill Cosby leaves the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., during the 2017 trial. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)

Constand said it took months for her to process what had happened, eventually getting to the point where she could tell her mother. 

She said her mother called Cosby to question him about what had happened that night — a call that Constand ended up joining.

"Every bit of what he did to me on that couch rolled off my tongue, and I just confronted him about everything he had done — and my mom just listened," he said. 

"For me, that was a moment where I could at least get it off my chest." 

#MeToo stories brought solidarity

Constand originally reported Cosby to police in 2005. After former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor publicly declined to charge Cosby, she pursued a civil case, during which Cosby acknowledged that he had given drugs to women before sexual encounters. Constand eventually settled the civil case for $3.38 million US, and was bound by a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).

After the civil case, Constand knew Cosby faced accusations from other women, but was now bound by an NDA that left her with a renewed pain, but also feeling less alone, she said.

"It gave me hope that at some point we could get together and try to heal together."

She got that opportunity in the 2017 trial, which ended in a hung jury, and the retrial the following year. The trials coincided with a groundswell of survivors speaking out about sexual assault, as part of the #MeToo movement.

"[#MeToo] brought a new awareness and a new consciousness" that helped to educate people on how survivors feel, and why many stayed silent for so long, she said. 

"Storytelling is very, very powerful, and I think we need to not be afraid to tell our stories. We've come too far."

When evidence from the civil suit was unsealed in 2015, Castor's successor, district attorney Kevin Steele, brought charges against Cosby. But three years after he was convicted, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said Steele was obligated to stand by Castor's statement that Cosby would not be charged. 

The court said that overturning the conviction, and barring any further prosecution, "is the only remedy that comports with society's reasonable expectations of its elected prosecutors and our criminal justice system."

In the book, Constand writes that she doesn't wish suffering on Cosby.

"I really realized I can't continue to be in his world," she told Galloway.

"I just have to continue to move forward, to be an inspiration to others, to help others," she said.

"This is what healing looks like. This is what closure looks like." 

Written by Padraig Moran, with files from the Associated Press and Canadian Press. Produced by Howard Goldenthal

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