Fallout From Cosby Case

Jun 17, 2017
Originally published on June 17, 2017 1:36 pm
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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Prosecutors say they plan to retry Bill Cosby on sexual-assault charges after the judge today declared a mistrial. Cosby had faced three charges of aggravated indecent assault. Victoria Valentino is with us now. She's one of some 60 women who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault. Ms. Valentino, welcome to the program.

VICTORIA VALENTINO: Thank you very much for having me.

BLOCK: And first, your reaction to this mistrial that was declared today.

VALENTINO: Well, we're obviously devastated. But the fight is not over. The work goes on. A woman's worst was on trial these last two weeks. And, you know, the jury failed her, and society has failed her. But this is not over. He's still on bail. He still has to come back. DA Steele has declared a retrial. And so we will probably - I'm not going to rest, and I don't think any of the rest of us survivors will, until we see justice done. And they're not just us Cosby survivors but all victims of rape and sexual assault. That goes for male and female.

BLOCK: In your case, I believe, the alleged assaults happened back in 1969. Is that right?

VALENTINO: The very end of '69, yeah.

BLOCK: What motivated you to come forward with your accusations when you did?

VALENTINO: Well it was Hannibal Buress, actually, because...

BLOCK: The comedian.

VALENTINO: Yes, the comedian, whose statement about Bill Cosby being a rapist in a stand-up act - you know, women have been trying - they want to be believed. And everybody has denied their truth. And then, suddenly, one single guy stands up and makes a joke about it in his stand-up routine, and it goes viral. Suddenly, everybody's talking about it. Everybody believes it. You know, I mean, that really frosted me. It was beyond - this little, red rocket of anger just went off and exploded in my head. And that was my tipping point.

BLOCK: We don't know yet why specifically the jury deadlocked in this case. But they could not agree on a unanimous guilty verdict. One of the things that the defense - Bill Cosby's defense team - hammered the accuser Andrea Constand on was inconsistencies in her account and, in particular, that she kept calling Bill Cosby after the incident - that she returned to his home, that she brought him a gift. And I do wonder whether those inconsistencies - alleged inconsistencies - were enough to convince the jury that maybe his story had some validity to it.

VALENTINO: Well, you know, actually, people were not thinking about the fact that she was working. It was her job to talk to the members of the board.

BLOCK: Of Temple University.

VALENTINO: The calls were there. But he was calling in, as well. And so she had to talk to him. And the gift actually was an idea of her mother's. And she was just asked to deliver it.

BLOCK: I guess I'm I'm curious whether you see a broader picture there of what it takes to convince a jury about sexual assault.

VALENTINO: Well, I think we've learned a lot here watching the process. And I think there were an awful lot of things that were not mentioned that could have been mentioned, a lot of things that were just simply not assertively pushed forward enough. And that's the thing. First of all, they never mentioned that Andrea is gay. You know, she didn't solicit attention from this old man. She didn't.

BLOCK: Ms. Valentino, I wonder - we're listening to the...

VALENTINO: And she's 6 feet tall, by the way.

BLOCK: The district attorney who prosecuted this case is speaking and saying that the message to victims is that they should be able to come forward and they can be heard. Very briefly, do you think that is the message that victims of sexual assault are hearing after this case?

VALENTINO: Well, after this case, I'm not sure that they believe that that's the truth. We maybe heard that we're heard on media. But maybe the jurors are not hearing it. Certainly, they were sequestered. They couldn't hear all of us out there, talking to all of the media. And, you know, there are 62 of us who have gone public. And I know two more personally who are afraid to go public. And one of the other survivors who has gone public knows 12 more...

BLOCK: OK.

VALENTINO: ...Who are afraid to go public. There must be hundreds. This is his fetish.

BLOCK: I'm afraid we have to - thank you so much for your time. We have to stop there. Victoria Valentino, one of dozens of women who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault. Ms. Valentino, thank you.

VALENTINO: Thank you so much for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.