On Monday, the first day of Bill Cosby’s sentencing hearing, Andrea Constand, whom he was sentenced on Tuesday to three to ten years in state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting in 2004, was present in the courtroom. She addressed Judge Steven O’Neill only briefly, letting her written words do most of the talking. “Your honor, I have testified, I have given you my victim impact statement. The jury heard me, Mr. Cosby heard me, and now all I am asking for is justice as the court sees fit,” she said, declining to say more at the judge’s offer. Her full remarks were shared privately with O’Neill and then made public to members of the media on Tuesday. In her statement, she details the night of the assault, the legal nightmare that followed, and describes how Cosby’s actions transformed her life from that day forward. “Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it. He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature, and my trust in myself and others,” she said. “We may never know the full extent of his double life as a sexual predator, but his decades-long reign of terror as a serial rapist is over.” Read her powerful words transcribed below.
To truly understand the impact that sexual assault has had on my life, you have to understand the person that I was before it happened.
At the time of the assault, I was 30 years old, and a fit, confident athlete. I was strong and skilled, with great reflexes, agility, and speed. When I graduated from high school in Toronto, I was one of the top three female high school basketball players in Canada. Dozens of American colleges lined up to offer me basketball scholarships, and I chose the University of Arizona.
For four years, I was a shooting guard on the women’s basketball team, scoring up to 30 points a game. It was an amazing time in my life, and I learned a lot, developed a circle of really good friends, many of them teammates, and traveled around the U.S. to compete.
The only downside was that I missed my family, and developed severe homesickness. When it started to affect my studies and my training, my Dad came up with the idea to move his own father and mother to Tucson.
My grandparents were in their late 60s when they gamely agreed to move more than 2,000 miles to help me adjust to life away from home. They were retired after selling their Toronto restaurant business, and figured the warm, dry climate would suit them anyway. I had always enjoyed a special relationship with my grandparents. Not only had I grown up in their home, but I spoke Greek before I spoke English. They got an apartment close to mine, and I was there most days, talking and laughing over my favorite home-cooked meals. The homesickness quickly evaporated.
After I graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in communications, I signed a two-year contract to play professional basketball for Italy. Going pro took my athletic training to a whole new level. Once again, I thrived in the team atmosphere, and enjoyed traveling Europe, although we rarely saw more than the basketball venues and the hotel rooms where we slept.
When my contract ended, my former coach from the University of Arizona encouraged me to apply for a job as Director of Operations for the women’s basketball team at Temple University in Philadelphia. It was a busy, challenging position that required me to manage a lot of logistical details so that others could focus on training the team for competition. I also made all the travel arrangements and went to tournaments with the team and support staff.
It was a great job but after a few years, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the healing arts, my other passion. I also wanted to work closer to home, where I would be reunited with my large, extended family, and many friends.
I knew who I was and I liked who I was. I was at the top of my game, certain that the groundwork provided by my education and athletic training would stand me in good stead whatever challenges lay ahead.
How wrong I was. In fact, nothing could have prepared me for an evening if January 2004, when life as I knew it came to an abrupt halt.
I had just given my two-month notice at Temple when the man I had come to know as a mentor and friend drugged and sexually assaulted me. Instead of being able to run, jump, and pretty much do anything I wanted physically, during the assault I was paralyzed and completely helpless. I could not move my arms or legs. I couldn’t speak or even remain conscious. I was completely vulnerable, and powerless to protect myself.
After the assault, I wasn’t sure what had actually happened but the pain spoke volumes. The shame was overwhelming. Self-doubt and confusion kept me from turning to my family or friends as I normally did. I felt completely alone, unable to trust anyone, including myself.
I made it through the next few weeks by focusing on work. The women’s basketball team was in the middle of the Atlantic 10 tournament, and I was traveling a lot. It was an extremely busy time for me, and the distraction helped take my mind off what had happened.
When the team wasn’t on the road, however, I was in the basketball office at Temple, and was required to interact with Mr. Cosby, who was on the Board of Trustees. The sound of his voice over the phone felt like a knife going through my guts. The sight of the man who drugged and sexually assaulted me coming into my basketball office filled me with dread. I did everything my job required of me but kept my head down, counting the days until I could return to Canada. I trusted that once I left, things would get back to normal.
Instead, the pain and anguish came with me. At my parents’ house, where I was staying until I got settled, I couldn’t talk, eat, sleep, or socialize. Instead of feeling less alone because I was back home with my family, I felt more isolated than ever. Instead of my legendary big appetite and “hollow leg” — a running joke in my family — I picked at my food, looking more like a scarecrow with each passing week. I was always a sound sleeper but now I couldn’t sleep for more than two or three hours. I felt exhausted all the time.
I used the demands of my new courses to opt out of family gatherings and events, and to avoid going out with friends. As far as anyone could tell, I was preoccupied with my studies. But the terrible truth about what happened to me — at the hands of a man my family and friends admired and respected — was swirling around inside me.
Then the nightmares started. I dreamed that another woman was being assaulted right in front of me and it was all my fault. In the dream, I was consumed with guilt, and pretty soon, that agonizing feeling spilled over into my waking hours too. I became more and more anxious that what had happened to me was going to happen to someone else. I grew terrified that it might already be too late, that the sexual assaults were continuing because I didn’t speak out.
Then one morning I called my mother on the telephone to tell her what had happened to me. She had heard me cry out in my sleep. She wouldn’t let me put her off, and insisted that I tell her what was wrong. She wouldn’t settle for anything less than a complete and truthful explanation.
Reporting the assault to the Durham Regional police in Toronto only intensified the fear and pain, making me feel more vulnerable and ashamed than ever. When the Montgomery County District Attorney outside Philadelphia decided not to prosecute for lack of evidence, we were left with no sense of validation or justice. After we launched civil claims, the response from Mr. Cosby’s legal team was swift and furious. It was meant to frighten and intimidate and it worked.
The psychological, emotional, and financial bullying included a slander campaign in the media that left my entire family reeling in shock and disbelief. Instead of being praised as a straight-shooter, I was called a gold-digger, a con artist, and a pathological liar. My hard-working middle-class parents were accused of trying to get money from a rich and famous man.
At the deposition during the civil trial, I had to relive every moment of the sexual assault in horrifying detail in front of Mr. Cosby and his lawyers. I felt traumatized all over again and was often in tears. I had to watch Cosby make jokes and attempt to degrade and diminish me, while his lawyers belittled and sneered at me. It deepened my sense of shame and helplessness, and at the end of each day, I left emotionally drained and exhausted.
When the case closed with a settlement, sealed testimony and a non-disclosure agreement, I thought that finally — finally — I could get on with my life, that this awful chapter in my life was over at last. These exact same feelings followed me throughout both criminal trials. The attacks on my character continued, spilling over outside the courtroom steps, attempting to discredit me and cast me in a false light. These character assassinations have caused me to suffer insurmountable stress and anxiety, which I still experience today.
I still didn’t know that my sexual assault was just the tip of the iceberg.
Now, more than 60 other woman have self-identified as sexual assault victims of Bill Cosby. We may never know the full extent of his double life as a sexual predator but his decades-long reign of terror as a serial rapist is over.
I have often asked myself why the burden of being the sole witness in two criminal trials had to fall to me. The pressure was enormous. I knew that how my testimony was perceived — that how I was perceived — would have an impact on every member of the jury and on the future mental and emotional well-being of every sexual assault victim who came before me. But I had to testify. It was the right thing to do, and I wanted to do the right thing, even if it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. When the first trial ended in a mistrial, I didn’t hesitate to step up again.
I know now that I am one of the lucky ones. But still, when the sexual assault happened, I was a young woman brimming with confidence and looking forward to a future bright with possibilities. Now, almost 15 years later, I’m a middle-aged woman who’s been stuck in a holding pattern for most of her adult life, unable to heal fully or to move forward.
Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it. He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature, and my trust in myself and others.
I’ve never married and I have no partner. I live alone. My dogs are my constant companions, and the members of my immediate family are my closest friends.
My life revolves around my work as a therapeutic massage practitioner. Many of my clients need help reducing the effects of accumulated stress. But I’ve also trained in medical massage at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and often help cancer patients manage the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. I help many others too — people with Parkinson’s, arthritis, diabetes, and so on. Some of my clients are in their 90s. I help them cope with the ravages of old age, reducing stiffness, aches and pains.
I like my work. I like knowing that I can help relieve pain and suffering in others. I know that helps me heal too.
I no longer play basketball but I try to stay fit. Mostly, I practice yoga and meditation, and when the weather is warm, I like to pedal my bike up long steep hills.
It all feels like a step in the right direction: away from a very dark and lonely place, toward the person I was before all of this happened.
Instead of looking back, I am looking forward to looking forward. I want to get to the place where the person I was meant to be gets a second chance.
I know that I still have room to grow.
Update: You can also read the victim impact statements from some of the other accusers who testified at Cosby’s retrial, including Janice Dickinson. Transcripts of their statements were shared following the sentencing.
The harrowing memory of the rape continues to this day. I have reoccurring nightmares, I wake up in fear, I fear the dark. I struggle to discuss this even with my beloved husband of six years.
The rape shattered my ability to trust. It made me extremely wary of becoming an actress. It affected my work. It affected my lifestyle. I lost a lot of spunk. I lost some of my effervescent attitude and lightness, qualities required of a model. I became less motivated to meet new people, a huge component of my daily work as a model. You don’t move away from the jobs — you run towards the work. My work suffered.
At one point, I moved to Milan, Italy, to get away, where I hoped to not see or hear of Cosby again.
But the rape is etched into my soul. Therapy has helped some but it has not helped to restore my innocence. I was never the same. I will never be the same.
In 2014, I learned of the heinous crime Bill Cosby committed against me. Since that time, my humanity has been tested. I was a young naive woman who trusted a man who represented himself as a hero, a father figure, and a pillar of the community. I used to cry for myself in the beginning because of shock, trauma, pain, agony, suffering, loss, remorse, guilt, shame, regret, and sadness. Now, if I cry, it is from strength and power.
He left a negative mark on me, and he kept it a secret, he wrote a poem he dedicated to his parents that talked about betrayal and secrets, and spent a lifetime betraying the most vulnerable souls and forced their silence. He forced my silence with drugs and memory loss. He committed a crime against me.
He preached to our youth for years in a bad attempt to teach them to take responsibility for their actions, but he does not honor his own words. Here is some advice from a real teacher: People are hurting from your actions, my family has suffered from your wrongdoing. Let God see you reach into the deepest, darkest corners of your soul and show him you know the road to redemption, show him the willpower and determination it takes to be responsible for the trauma you caused me. Try starting with an apology. The time is now. It is not too late to make amends to me and my family. I would like you to be grateful to my beautiful parents, Albert and Christina, who taught me how to be the remarkable woman that stands here today, who taught me to survive, how to be strong, and to be a force to be reckon with. An unexpected fork in the road for you. Because of my strength and my family, I stand here to serve as one more opportunity for you to work on the path of your own salvation, just as we all must do. I am free of you, I have moved on and I forgive you. I won’t ever forget what you did to me and there will be times I will feel sorrow and pain but it will never control my life.
I have the strength to give you permission to ask me for my forgiveness. I have the love for myself to open the door and allow you to ease your own suffering. I will give you permission to address me and I will listen when you apologize for hurting me. You know in order for God to save you, you have to do your part.
Maybe you will find peace when you make amends with me. Remember you do not have very long to redeem yourself at this late age in your life. Use your time in confinement wisely. You are a convicted criminal, everyone knows it, and everyone knows what you did to me. Show God you have the human capacity to feel remorse, to regret your actions, and the desire to ease the suffering of those you hurt. Be the example you have touted yourself to be and show us how a sinner’s faith can make him strong when he is weak.
I have waited 32 years for this day, hoping my nightmare would go away. I prayed every day that Mr. Bill Cosby would go to prison, do his time and finally pay his dues. I prayed for him to get the maximum sentence of 30 years. If he does not receive the maximum of 30 years, I will move on. But he must finally start taking full responsibility for his actions.
He did not care how old I was. I was young and innocent and only 17 years old. Why should he receive mercy just because he is 81 years old. I will find peace of mind as long as Mr. Cosby serves prison time for his actions. I have full faith in our judicial system and as I said from the beginning, Mr. Cosby, you are guilty, guilty, guilty. My mother always told me, don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.
I would like to thank the District Attorney and his entire staff for their relentless pursuit of justice in this case. And thank you to my attorney Ms. Gloria Allred, who will publicly read this statement in my absence, following the sentencing.
My final thanks goes to you, Mr. Cosby. Yes, I said thank you, Mr. Cosby. Thank you for your enormous ego and arrogance, for without it we might not be here today. Your arrogance led a group of wounded women to come together, to support one another and to form a bond that can never be broken. We have stood together to change the statute of limitations laws in several states, all because of you, Mr. Cosby. So once again, I thank you. Mr. Cosby, I want to thank you for allowing me to become a strong and outspoken advocate for sexual abuse survivors everywhere. Your arrogance sparked a movement that has grown to thousands of women taking back their self-esteem and proudly standing up for what is morally right, so, thank you Mr. Cosby. You used your celebrity to victimize dozens upon dozens of women, including me, and your sense of entitlement and lack of remorse is astonishing. But thank you Mr. Cosby for possessing these morally corrupt character flaws, for they have also led us to this moment. Although the decades of sexual assault and rape which many women believe were committed by you did not go unnoticed by either your peers or victims, it took far too many years for justice to be served. It is for that reason I am asking the court to sentence you to the fullest term possible. You are solely responsible for personally sentencing scores of women to years of self-imprisonment, of self-doubt, shame, and humiliation so it is only appropriate that you serve the 30 year sentence allowed by law.
Your Honor, I completely trusted this once beloved man and he took advantage of that trust to satisfy his perverted fantasies. I held on to the humiliation of my experience for over thirty years and to this day, I still have trouble forgiving myself even with the knowledge that I am not the one to blame. However, when I do fall back into that black hole where I used to blame myself, I still, to this day, struggle to defeat that irrational feeling any time I am reminded of my assault. It’s a constant battle and one that is a direct result of Mr. Cosby’s vile actions. Choosing to come forward was not only liberating but a costly decision as well. For two long years my marriage suffered tremendous strain, coming close to the brink of divorce as I sought to come to terms with the fact that I was indeed, a victim of rape. Your Honor, Mr. Cosby has not expressed one ounce of remorse or regret for his actions. His arrogance continues to this day. Please consider this when deciding on the length of Mr. Cosby’s sentence and please, please remember the premeditated and depraved behavior this sick man inflicted upon his victims.