Press Release

Centre Safe Statement on the Bill Cosby Decision

Posted on July 2, 2021

Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the 2019 conviction of Bill Cosby. This news has been deeply upsetting for many survivors and those who believed that his conviction represented progress in our criminal legal system. The opinion issued does not reflect the truth of claims made against Cosby, but rather the decisions made by a former prosecutor to offer him immunity in exchange for his testimony in a civil suit. The protection of the constitutional rights of the individual are not in conflict with the protection of victims of sexual assault. Here, however, the intersection of those interests and the significant financial resources of the accused have produced a deeply unsettling result.

Our legal system has proven inadequate to the task of addressing sexual violence, and justice for survivors extends far beyond any courtroom. We know that true support for victims of sexual assault is not about a simple verdict, important as that may be. Believing survivors, supporting survivors, and standing in solidarity with survivors are the truly restorative practices. It is the work of counselors, advocates, medical staff, and many others that facilitates the healing and safety needed after such an assault. This legal opinion is not a loss. It is a call to recognize and uplift the true work of finding justice for survivors; to acknowledge where the system ends and community begins. If we hope to rid our communities of violence we must continue to engage—with each other, with the criminal and civil justice systems, and with the inequity that supports and perpetuates a culture of violence.

Our culture is changing. We need only to look to the articles, discussions on social media, and dinner table conversations about this verdict. Our hard work, advocacy, education efforts, and solidarity have led us to this pivotal moment where dialogue and discussion about these subjects is possible. We no longer live in a world where these matters are kept in the dark. We are seeing the change that we have worked for and more change, needed change, is yet to come.

Barrett Marshall, Esq.

Director, Centre Safe Civil Legal Representation Project

We stand with survivors, always. If you are struggling with the recent Bill Cosby case, our hotline counselor advocates are here for you – confidential, professional, and free. Call us anytime at 1-877-234-5050.