The plaintiffs involved in the ongoing case against comedian Bill Cosby are voicing their relief after Judge Steven T. O’Neill of the Court Of Common Pleas in Montgomery County announced that he would allow testimony from 2005 to be admitted into evidence in the current case.
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The testimony, which was taken during a deposition in a civil lawsuit against him in which Andrea Constand accused him of drugging and raping her, was unsealed and made public in July of 2015. The court documents revealed that Cosby had been asked under oath “When you got the Quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these Quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?”
He gave a simple reply, “Yes.”
Quaaludes are a central nervous depressant which are frequently used as a sedative. Although the drug was available via prescription in the past, in 1984, Congress banned the sale of the drug as a prescription in 1984. During the discovery process, it was determined that Cosby had been given at least seven separate prescriptions for the drug.
Cosby’s legal team has been arguing that this testimony should not be allowed in the current trial because of an alleged promise made by the former district attorney that the information would not be used to prosecute him. However, according to Judge O’Neill, “This court concludes that there was neither an agreement nor a promise not to prosecute, only an exercise of prosecutorial discretion.” He noted that no promise was made in writing, only a comment made in a press release, not a legally binding contract.
This testimony could be some of the most important evidence presented by the plaintiffs because it appears to back up their own claims. In fact, more than 50 women have come forward, claiming that Cosby attacked them and most have a disturbingly similar story – that he offered them a drink and soon after they woke up to find themselves being abused.
As the discovery phase of the trial comes to a close, it has been reported that at least 13 of the women claiming that Cosby attacked them have agreed to testify against him. These victims alleged assaults span over decades, one as far back and the 1960’s. But they all are ready to stand beside the plaintiff.
“I said yes and didn’t hesitate at all,” one woman acknowledged in September of 2016.
As is often the case, his defense team is questioning the credibility of the plaintiff and the women willing to testify. Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele described their tactic as “This is ‘Hey, let’s trash these victims,” despite that fact that they all tell a very similar account. This line of attack frequently used by defense teams is called “victim blaming”.
Victim blaming is when men and women who have been sexually assaulted are told things or asked questions which make it seem like they could have done something to prevent their assault. They may be asked what they had to eat, what they wore, how much they had to drink, if they are sexually promiscuous, if they cheat on their significant others – as if the answers have anything to do with what happened on the night in question. The fact is that even if a person willingly agrees to have a sexual interaction with ten people in one day, wearing the most revealing outfit possible, if they say no once, then no is the answer.
The first trial which addressed this attack was a civil lawsuit which was settled out of court in 2006. This time, the case is being brought by prosecutors in Pennsylvania in a criminal case. Although the two cases are regarding similar allegations, there are two purposes. A civil case seeks monetary compensation for the plaintiff for the losses they sustained and a criminal cases seeks to penalize the defendant for the alleged crimes they committed. A criminal case will not provide the plaintiff with compensation.