Though Bill Cosby’s guilty verdict Thursday related only to his assault on Andrea Constand in 2004, dozens of other women had accused him of similar crimes – and many of them expressed joy following his conviction in the Constand case.
Some of them took the stand in Cosby’s retrial, accusing the comedian of assault in separate incidents decades ago. Cosby, through his lawyers, has repeatedly denied their accusations.
Here’s what some of the women had to say following Thursday’s verdict.
“I feel like I’m dreaming,” said Lili Bernard, one of Cosby’s accusers, outside the courthouse Thursday.
“Can you pinch me?” she asked, holding out her arm to a reporter. “I feel like my faith in humanity is restored.”
In a news conference, Bernard evoked Martin Luther King Jr., saying, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but today it has bent towards justice.”
“Last year when I was sitting in the courtroom of the first trial and the verdict was hung, I left with such a tremendous sense of of disappointment,” she said. “And it became evident to me that the justice system is light years behind modern culture. But today this jury has shown that what the MeToo movement has (been) saying is that women are worthy of being believed. And I thank the jury. I thank the prosecution.”
The victory, Bernard said, doesn’t exclusively belong to Constand or Cosby’s accusers. “It is also a victory for womanhood, and it is a victory for all sexual assault survivors, female and male.”
“I just want to thank DA (Kevin) Steele and his amazing team and all of the people who believed in us every step of the way,” said Victoria Valentino, a former Playboy playmate who accused Cosby of raping her in the late 1960s after he gave her pills at dinner.
“We are so grateful to all of you, and thank you, thank you, thank you. We are vindicated. We are validated, and we are now part of the tsunami of women’s power and justice.”
“We are not shutting up,” Valentino said, “and we’re not going away. Get over it.”
“I looked at (my husband after hearing about the verdict), and I said, ‘We did it. We won. We beat Goliath,’” said Heidi Thomas, who accused Cosby of sexually assaulting her in 1984 at a house outside Reno, Nevada.
She’s said she was a 24-year-old aspiring actress and model who was visiting Cosby for “coaching” at the time of the alleged assault.
Thomas was one of the women who testified against Cosby in Constand’s trial.
“You get to look at that person in the face and say, ‘You didn’t win. I’m still here. And you’re going down.’ So it’s incredibly empowering,” she told CNN on Friday.
“I’m stunned,” Patricia Steuer told CNN Thursday afternoon. “This is not something I expected in my lifetime, and I’m also elated. I’m elated for Andrea and I’m elated for all the women who have been affected in their lives by this kind of event.”
Steuer, who said Cosby assaulted her twice more than 30 years ago when she was an aspiring singer, said she believed the culture surrounding sexual assault and harassment has changed a lot since the close of the initial trial.
“When I came forward in 2005, I thought I was the only one until Andrea Constand tried to have him charged the first time,” Steuer said, her voice thick with emotion. “I can’t tell you how amazing it was to know that I was not alone anymore, after 25 years of living with this.”
“I hope it’s empowered women,” Steuer said of the verdict. “I hope they know now that this is proof that they don’t have to stay silent anymore.”
“I am overwhelmed with joy, relief and gratitude,” Janice Baker-Kinney, who testified during Cosby’s trial, said in a written statement posted to her Twitter account. “Joy that finally, justice has been served. Relief that the years of this toxic chain of silence has been broken and we can now move forward with our heads held high as survivors and not victims.”
Baker-Kinney has said that Cosby drugged her before assaulting her in 1982.
“This may be the end for Mr. Cosby, but this victory is just the beginning for many of us, to fight for justice, to do the right thing and support every person who has ever been shamed and humiliated and blamed,” Baker-Kinney wrote. “May this verdict open the floodgates to those who have been hiding their shame for far too long and give them courage to come forward. You are NOT alone.”
“It’s a victory. It’s relief,” said Kathy McKee, a former actress who has accused Cosby of raping her. She said she also felt saddened at the same time.
“There’s a sadness about what happens to a man like Bill Cosby from doing these heinous acts for so many years,” she said. “There’s a certain sadness that comes over me. It’s rather pathetic, I think.”
McKee said she and other women had been afraid of speaking out against Cosby for years because of his wealth and his power.
In light of the verdict, she said, “then I would think that any intelligent man working in the industry today – any producer or writer or director or whoever – would have to, you know, take note and take heed because you can fall.”
“You know, you can go as high as you can go,” McKee said, “but you can come down, too.”
CNN’s Jason Hanna contributed to this report.