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Andrea Constand’s victim-impact statement was released Tuesday. In the five-page letter sent to the judge for Bill Cosby’s sentencing hearing, the woman at the center of the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era explains how Cosby’s 2004 attack has impacted her life.
On Tuesday, the Cosby Show star and comedian faced up to 10 years in prison for violating Constand, a former women’s professional basketball player, at his home near Philadelphia in 2004. Ahead of the sentencing, Judge Steven O’Neill ruled that Cosby is a “sexually violent predator.” Cosby now must undergo lifetime counseling and report quarterly to authorities; his name will appear on a sex-offender registry.
“To truly understand the impact that sexual assault has had on my life, you have to understand the person that I was before it happened,” begins Constand in her statement. “At the time of the assault, I was 30 years old, and a fit, confident athlete. I was strong, and skilled, with great reflexes, agility and speed.”
After playing women’s basketball in college and then professionally in Europe, Constand became the administrator for the women’s basketball team at Temple University in Philadelphia. “I was at the top of my game,” she writes of the time. Then adding, “How wrong I was. In fact, nothing could have prepared me for an evening of January 2004, when life as I knew it came to an abrupt halt.”
Constand goes on to describe the drugged assault by Cosby, whom she describes as a then-mentor and friend, writing that she was “paralyzed and completely helpless” when he knocked her out with pills and violated her. She couldn’t move her arms or legs, or speak: “I was completely vulnerable, and powerless to protect myself.”
She then writes of having to cope with the subsequent “overwhelming” shame.
“Self-doubt and confusion kept me from turning to my family or friends as I normally did,” she says. “I felt completely alone, unable to trust anyone, including myself.”
She still interacted with Cosby, who was on the board of trustees. When she left Temple for Canada, the “pain and anguish came with me,” she writes.
“I couldn’t talk, eat, sleep or socialize…. I felt more isolated than ever,” she says, adding that she had constant nightmares that made her more anxious. “I grew terrified…that the sexual assaults were continuing because I didn’t speak out.”
In the statement, Constand details the journey from when she first reported the assault in Toronto to launching civil claims after no action was taken.
“The psychological, emotional and financial bullying included a slander campaign in the media that left my entire family reeling in shock and disbelief,” she writes, adding that she felt “traumatized” all over again when reliving the attack during the civil trial and two subsequent criminal trials.
“I still didn’t know that my sexual assault was just the tip of the iceberg,” she adds.
She discusses the burden of being the sole witness in two criminal trials (“the pressure was enormous”), but says, “I had to testify. It was the right thing to do, and I wanted to do the right thing, even if it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.”
Now, almost 15 years after the attack, Constand says she lives alone with her two dogs, “stuck in a holding pattern” as a middle-aged woman because she is “unable to heal fully or to move forward.” She now helps others relieve pain as a therapeutic massage practitioner.
“Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it. He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature, and my trust in myself and others,” she writes. “Instead of looking back, I am looking forward to looking forward. I want to get to the place where the person I was meant to be gets a second chance.”
Read Constand’s full statement in the Twitter thread below.
Constand’s letter: “To truly understand the impact that the sexual assault has had on my life, you have to understand the person that I was before it happened.” pic.twitter.com/dKxwo8UmW7
— Laura McCrystal (@LMcCrystal) September 25, 2018
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