NORRISTOWN, PA (JUNE 13th, 2017) – The National Organization for Women hailed the courage of Andrea Constand in testifying in the trial of Bill Cosby on sexual assault charges, as NOW activists joined forces across state lines in a show of support for survivors of sexual assault.
“Andrea Constand’s bravery brought the issue of sexual assault out of the shadows,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of NOW-NY. “She has the gratitude of survivors everywhere for speaking out.”
Ossorio also praised Montgomery County prosecutors for their work. “District Attorney Kevin Steele took up the tough work of prosecuting a wealthy and famous defendant, when other prosecutors would not have had the spine to do so,” Ossorio said. “Assistant District Attorney Kristen Feder brought compassion and skill to the trial and demonstrated her deep understanding of the unique dynamics of sexual assault. We need more prosecutors who are willing to go forward on difficult cases when it is the right thing to do.”
Kathleen Shank, president of the Montgomery County chapter of NOW, emphasized that the Bill Cosby trial was a window onto a much wider problem. “This is such a high profile case, but sexual assault is happening all over our country,” said Shank. “It’s unacceptable that this is considered normal by some people.”
“It’s vital that we have a strengthened and funded Violence Against Women Act which has made it possible for these court cases even to exist,” Shank continued. “Before VAWA there were very few services available to help survivors of rape and sexual violence.”
Jane Manning, Director of Advocacy with NOW’s sister organization Women’s Justice NOW, said that the Cosby trial was a unique opportunity to spread awareness about sex crimes that involve drugging. “Drug-facilitated sexual assault is a hideous and underprosecuted crime. It’s horrible for the victims, who are attacked when they are totally vulnerable, often because they were rendered vulnerable by the perpetrator.”
“To make matters worse,” Manning continued, “Victims of drug-facilitated sexual assault often face extra layers of blame and doubt. We need more police and prosecutors to become knowledgeable about this crime, so that they understand what to look for, how to assess victim credibility fairly, and how to build strong cases.”
For more information, contact Jane Manning at (917) 657-6736.