Comedian Bill Cosby has become notorious in recent years after 2004 sexual assault allegations opened the floodgates for a trial and upwards of 50 more accusers. Cosby stood trial last summer for allegedly drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand in his home. The trial, which ended in a hung jury, will restart next month. Constand’s chilling testimony makes her the first in a decades-long list of alleged victims to successfully take Cosby to court. (Cosby has admitted giving women alcohol and drugs, but says that all sexual contact was consensual.) Now, according to a report from CBS News, five more of Cosby’s accusers will join her on the stand.
Cosby’s defense team and prosecutors were locked in court negotiations earlier this month. Prosecutors were determined to add as many as 19 additional Cosby accusers to their list of witnesses, a move which Cosby’s defense strongly resisted. Judge Steven O’Neill ruled yesterday that prosecutors would be allowed to call five more alleged victims to the stand. This is a major step forward for the case against the 80-year-old actor, whose alleged assault history would make him one of Hollywood’s most flagrant serial predators.
Cosby’s defense team tried to fight further testimony by accusing the prosecution of reviving “ancient allegations” which would distract a #MeToo-mired jury. That’s an interesting claim to make, given that this trial is about a 2004 case and Cosby has at least two other accusers whose alleged assaults took place in the aughts. In a 2014 interview with the Daily Mail, Chloe Goins alleged that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her at the Playboy mansion in 2008. In 2000, Lachele Covington filed a police report alleging that Cosby placed her hand under his shirt and began moving it towards his crotch.
Even if Cosby had no recent accusers, it’s hardly a coincidence that the bulk of his alleged victims are reporting decades after the fact. If recent #MeToo and #TimesUp conversations have taught us anything, it’s that women rarely feel able to report after an assault, as they’re usually met with disbelief or backlash. Decades of distance have probably played a role in Cosby’s accusers’ ability to come forward.
Whether this retrial ends in justice or more ambivalence, Cosby’s accusers have made one thing clear: His alleged abuse will no longer go unnoticed.