Gloria Allred, who represented many women who spoke out against Bill Cosby, is slamming the court’s decision to overturn the comedian’s sexual assault conviction.
The high-powered attorney and women’s rights activist called the court’s decision “devastating” for accusers. She said it doesn’t vindicate Cosby. Allred added that Cosby’s trials were an “important fight for justice,” which should not be overshadowed by the court overturning the conviction on a technicality.
“This decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court today to overturn the conviction of Bill Cosby must be devastating for Bill Cosby’s accusers,” Allred said in a statement obtained by Variety.
“My heart especially goes out to those who bravely testified in both of his criminal cases. I represented a majority of the prior bad act accusers who testified,” Allred’s statement continued. “Despite the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision, this was an important fight for justice and even though the court overturned the conviction on technical grounds, it did not vindicate Bill Cosby’s conduct and should not be interpreted as a statement or a finding that he did not engage in the acts of which he has been accused.”
Allred represented more than 30 women who alleged they were assaulted or harassed by Cosby. She began to represent the accusers around 2014 when many contacted her seeking advice, despite it being too late to file a lawsuit because of the statute of limitations. However, Andrea Constand’s statute of limitations had not run out, and her allegations that Cosby drugged and violated her marked the first criminal charges to be filed in the Cosby case when he was first charged in 2015 for sexually assaulting Constand at his Pennsylvania home in 2004.
At the time, dozens upon dozens of women had come forward with allegations of being drugged and raped by “The Cosby Show” star, known as “America’s Dad,” for decades.
The case went to trial in 2017, but ended in a mistrial when the jury could not reach a verdict. In 2018, the case was refiled and the judge granted “Molineux witnesses,” or prior bad acts witnesses, to testify, in order to establish a pattern of behavior. Allred represented the prior bad acts witnesses in the re-trial, which resulted in Cosby’s April 2018 conviction. (A few years later in 2020, the same approach was taken in the Harvey Weinstein trial with prior bad acts witnesses taking the stand.) Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison for raping Constand.
On Wednesday, however, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the conviction, ruling that the testimony at the trial was tainted, even though a lower court found that he showed a pattern of drugging and molesting women. According to the Associated Press, the court ruled that Cosby’s agreement with prosecutor Bruce Castor in 2005 should have prevented him from being charged again.
In the past, Allred had said she was pleasantly surprised, but shocked, by Cosby’s guilty verdict because it has become so normalized to not believe women, particularly those allegedly assaulted by a powerful celebrity.
Allred’s daughter, attorney Lisa Bloom, represented three women who accused Cosby, including supermodel Janice Dickinson. She reacted to the news of Cosby’s release on Wednesday, saying she and her clients are “disgusted that he is a free man today.
“He is not released because he is innocent,” Bloom tweeted. “He is released because a prosecutor promised him years ago that he would not be brought to justice, without even making a deal for him to do time.”
Bloom continued with a lengthy Twitter thread, praising her client, Dickinson, along with Constand.
She tweeted, in part, “The victim in the case, Andrea Constand, so dignified, so strong, answering every demeaning question. The conviction. We couldn’t believe it: justice, a tiny bit, finally. And now this. A kick in the gut to victims and their advocates.”
“We prepared her for the ugly cross-examination that would come. We flew across the country, waited day after day for her turn. I watched the other ‘prior bad acts’ witnesses testify magnificently. Then Janice’s turn. She slayed. I was so proud of her and all the others,” Bloom wrote. “I will never forget my client Janice Dickinson’s brave decision to testify as a ‘prior bad acts’ witness in Cosby’s 2018 criminal trial. She knew this could be used against her in her civil case. We decided we didn’t care. Getting him criminally convicted was essential.”
Bloom summed up her thoughts by adding: “Every day I fight for sexual assault victims and have to advise them of the ugly truth: the system still massively favors the rich and powerful. You need a superhuman level of strength and courage. Luckily many victims have it. Any other Cosby victims, time to come forward!”