‘Prayers answered’: Bill Cosby’s accusers react to sexual assault charge

Updated 10:53 AM EST, Thu December 31, 2015
US comedian Bill Cosby leaves December 30, 2015 the Court House in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania after arraignment on charges of aggravated indecent assault. Cosby was arraigned over an incident that took place in 2004 -- the first criminal charge filed against the actor after dozens of women claimed abuse.AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCUR / AFP / KENA BETANCUR        (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
KENA BETANCUR/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
US comedian Bill Cosby leaves December 30, 2015 the Court House in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania after arraignment on charges of aggravated indecent assault. Cosby was arraigned over an incident that took place in 2004 -- the first criminal charge filed against the actor after dozens of women claimed abuse.AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCUR / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
04:04
Cosby accuser: I'd like him to own up ...
Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections
Now playing
00:45
This is where Bill Cosby is going to prison
Bill Cosby is taken away in handcuffs after he was sentenced to three-to 10-years for felony sexual assault on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, in Norristown, Pa.  (Mark Makela/Pool Photo via AP)
Mark Makela/Pool/AP
Bill Cosby is taken away in handcuffs after he was sentenced to three-to 10-years for felony sexual assault on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, in Norristown, Pa. (Mark Makela/Pool Photo via AP)
Now playing
01:12
See Bill Cosby leave court in handcuffs
NORRISTOWN, PA - SEPTEMBER 24: Actor and comedian Bill Cosby returns to the courtroom after a break with his spokesman Andrew Wyatt at the Montgomery County Courthouse, during his sexual assault trial sentencing in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S. September 24, 2018. (Photo by David Maialetti/Pool/Getty Images)
David Maialetti/Pool/Getty Images
NORRISTOWN, PA - SEPTEMBER 24: Actor and comedian Bill Cosby returns to the courtroom after a break with his spokesman Andrew Wyatt at the Montgomery County Courthouse, during his sexual assault trial sentencing in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S. September 24, 2018. (Photo by David Maialetti/Pool/Getty Images)
Now playing
00:48
Cosby sentenced to 3 to 10 years
Attorney Gloria Allred speaks about the sentencing of comedian Bill Cosby on 9/25.
WPVI
Attorney Gloria Allred speaks about the sentencing of comedian Bill Cosby on 9/25.
Now playing
00:59
Allred: Judgment day has come for Cosby
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele speaks after Bill Cosby sentencing.
WPVI
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele speaks after Bill Cosby sentencing.
Now playing
00:59
Prosecutor: Andrea Constand never waivered
Now playing
00:56
Cosby accuser gets emotional after sentencing
CNN
Now playing
02:06
Accuser: I saw violence in Bill Cosby
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby (C) comes out of the Courthouse after the verdict in the retrial of his sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania on April 26, 2018. - Disgraced television icon Bill Cosby was convicted Thursday of sexual assault by a US jury -- losing a years-long legal battle that was made tougher at retrial as the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era. (Photo by Dominick Reuter / AFP)        (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby (C) comes out of the Courthouse after the verdict in the retrial of his sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania on April 26, 2018. - Disgraced television icon Bill Cosby was convicted Thursday of sexual assault by a US jury -- losing a years-long legal battle that was made tougher at retrial as the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era. (Photo by Dominick Reuter / AFP) (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:50
Bill Cosby faces up to 30 years for assault
NBC/"Dateline"
Now playing
01:05
Accuser: I forgave Bill Cosby to find peace
cosby juror
ABC
cosby juror
Now playing
01:09
Juror on what sealed Cosby's fate
Bill Cosby departs after a pretrial hearing in his sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017. Cosby's retrial will be delayed as his new legal team gets up to speed on the case. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Matt Rourke/AP/FILE
Bill Cosby departs after a pretrial hearing in his sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017. Cosby's retrial will be delayed as his new legal team gets up to speed on the case. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Now playing
02:13
Bill Cosby found guilty of sexual assault
Bill Cosby arrives for his sexual assault trial, Wednesday, April 25, 2018, at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/AP
Bill Cosby arrives for his sexual assault trial, Wednesday, April 25, 2018, at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Now playing
02:40
Cosby had an emotional outburst in court
cosby verdict emotion
cosby verdict emotion
Now playing
01:31
Watch Cosby accusers react to verdict
Getty Images
Now playing
01:38
Highs and lows of Cosby's career

Story highlights

"It's been a big day," says Kaya Thompson, who called other women after hearing the news

"Many of us ... really didn't think he'd see the inside of a courtroom," says Heidi Thomas

Cosby's lawyers have regularly denied the allegations against him

(CNN) —  

One says she cried like a baby. Another says she did a kind of “happy dance.”

When news broke that actor Bill Cosby faces a criminal charge of sexual assault for the first time, it prompted strong reactions from the women who have accused him of a range of offenses, from drugging to rape.

At least 50 women have come forward publicly. Cosby, through his lawyers, has regularly denied the accusations.

Here’s what some of the women say they felt when they heard Cosby had been arraigned Wednesday in Pennsylvania over an allegation of sexual assault dating from 2004, a case his lawyers say is “unjustified.”

Kaya Thompson: ‘Prayers answered’

Her accusation against Cosby: Thompson was a 17-year-old model when she met Cosby in New York in 1988. He had been mentoring Thompson for about a year, when an unwanted sexual encounter occurred at his New York City home, she says.

“Even at 17, it was then very clear what was expected of me,” Thompson said earlier this year. “I made a lot of excuses to get out of the house as quickly as I could, and I cried the whole way home.”

Her reaction to Wednesday’s news: “Shocked. And happy. Prayers answered,” she told CNN’s Don Lemon. Thompson said she did “sort of a happy dance, and then I called a fellow survivor.”

Her phone then started “blowing up” as other women reached out to her. “It’s been a big day,” she said.

Thompson called on Cosby to “own up.”

“I feel that really for the African-American community, he owes us to be honest,” she said.

Heidi Thomas: ‘Thrilled’

Her accusation against Cosby: Thomas says she met Cosby in 1984 and visited him at a house outside of Reno, Nevada, for “coaching.” At the time, she was a 24-year-old aspiring actress and model.

Thomas says Cosby offered her a glass of Chablis, and she later woke up with Cosby next to her in bed, naked, and “forcing himself in my mouth.”

Her reaction to Wednesday’s news: “I think I can speak for all of us and say we are thrilled,” she told CNN. “Many of us, myself included, really didn’t think he’d see the inside of a courtroom because of his power and his influence and his money.”

Thomas said she wasn’t sure how the case would play out.

“Is it going to become something that eventually will send him to prison?” she wondered. “Wow. That would be the ultimate victory. I don’t know.”

Beth Ferrier: ‘A good day’

Her accusation against Cosby: Ferrier has said she met Cosby in the mid-1980s when she was a model in her early 20s in Denver. He mentored her for a time, but one night, she said, he gave her a drugged cappuccino.

“I woke up six hours later dumped in the back of my car in the alley,” she told CNN affiliate KCNC.

Her reaction to Wednesday’s news: “Today is still just a good day, regardless of if he is found guilty or not guilty,” she told KCNC. “We’re hoping that we get our day in court.”

The broadcaster reported that Ferrier said she cried like a baby.

“If someone speaks to you about sexual assault, you need to believe them, believe the women,” she said.

Patricia Steuer: ‘Stood there and cried’

Her accusation against Cosby: Steuer alleges that Cosby drugged her twice more than 30 years ago when she was an aspiring singer: First at his home in Massachusetts, and a second time at his penthouse at a casino resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The first time, she said, she passed out after taking a drink, and woke up naked in a bed, with Cosby allegedly telling her that her dress had been washed after she threw up. Recalling the incident to CNN in July, she did not say whether she believed at the time that she had been raped.

Describing the Atlantic City incident, she said Cosby, who was offering to help her career, refused to let her in the penthouse until she took two pills he gave her. She said she lost consciousness and woke up naked, and believed she had been raped.

Her reaction to Wednesday’s news: She was with her husband in a public place when she heard. “I just put my arms around him and stood there and cried,” she told CNN’s “New Day” on Thursday.

She said the tears were tears of relief, joy and validation, because people did not believe her for years.

She said she just recently started therapy for her encounters with Cosby. “Anytime I’m touched by anyone, I jump. That’s been difficult in my marriage of 35 years,” she said.

Steuer said she hopes that whatever happens in the criminal case will help her and other alleged victims heal.

Victoria Valentino: ‘Very emotional’

Her accusation against Cosby: Former Playboy playmate Victoria Valentino says a friend introduced her to Cosby, hoping to help her get work on his show “I Spy” in the late 1960s. Valentino alleges the comedian gave her pills at dinner to “cheer up,” after which she felt “stoned” as he took her to another place. There, Valentino said Cosby pushed himself near her mouth, before turning her around and raping her.