It had been an intense start to the Bill Cosby trial. Victoria Valentino knew this intimately because she had watched it closely from the gallery of the courtroom where the entertainer was being tried on sexual-assault charges. One alleged victim was in tears as she testified Monday, then was verbally battered by a Cosby lawyer. Another alleged victim — the case’s central accuser, Andrea Constand — began her tense testimony Tuesday. And the two-week trial was only getting started.
Valentino, allegedly raped by Cosby in 1969 but silent about it for years, was visibly buoyed after the second day of Cosby’s trial ended with Constand
responding to cross-examination with poise after a long afternoon on the stand at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown.
“Andrea is strong, brave, courageous, and very authentic. I thought she did very well,” Valentino said after court adjourned for the day and moments before Cosby emerged from the courthouse with no comment. “Last time I was in a room with him was the time he raped me. I’ve been enjoying watching him rub his head and look beleaguered.”
For Valentino, 74, who flew in from Los Angeles, watching the 79-year-old Cosby endure a criminal trial in the flesh was a must-see mission of reckoning, if only to witness with her own eyes what she viewed as justice leveled against the onetime king of must-see TV.
She and two other alleged victims have traveled to Norristown to watch the trial, while others in the group of more than 60 women who say they were victimized by Cosby said the proceedings would be on their minds from afar. They are women whose allegations were too old for prosecution by the time they went public.
Valentino said that, awed by Cosby’s star power, she never told authorities. Many others came forth publicly within the last two years as Constand’s own account involving an alleged 2004 assault — one fresh enough to prosecute in Pennsylvania — gained renewed attention from investigators.
Cosby has consistently denied sexual misconduct with Valentino, Constand, or anyone else.
As Constand took the stand Tuesday, some of the other Cosby accusers sat together toward the back of the courtroom, watching closely. In their eyes, she was speaking for others who will never have such a day in court.
“We are here to stand in solidarity with Andrea Constand, and stand in truth,” said Valentino, who earlier in the day said she was “relieved” that she, herself, did not have to testify.
“We have suffered the consequences of his actions all of our lives,” she said. “I think it’s only fair that he suffer the consequences of his own actions.”
Constand told jurors that she was drugged and abused by Cosby 13 years ago at the comedian’s Cheltenham Township home, at a time when the onetime standout basketball player was working for Temple University and Cosby was its most prominent alum and board member.
Other accusers anticipated her testimony with a sense of prospective satisfaction.
“We’re grateful for her bravery,” said Heidi Thomas, 57, a Colorado mother who alleges that Cosby forced himself on her during an acting lesson in 1984. “We’re so thankful she walked back into this maelstrom. She didn’t have to, but she chose to. Whether she intended it or not she’s speaking for a whole group of women.”
Constand’s attorney, Dolores Troiani, also spoke of her bravery, in a brief statement to reporters outside the courthouse Tuesday evening. “I thought she was very brave,” Troiani said. “I think it takes a lot of guts to do what she did, to come forward in a room filled with people and to be able to maintain her composure and her train of thought.”
Beth Ferrier, 57, of Colorado,
still credits Constand for inspiring her to speak out against Cosby about her own alleged assault, which she says occurred in the 1980s in the midst of a two-month consensual relationship with the entertainer.
Ferrier said in an interview that she kept her story to herself until she saw a National Enquirer interview with Constand in 2005. She went on to become one of 13 Jane Doe witnesses Constand’s lawyers lined up for a civil suit against Cosby settled before trial in 2006.
In the fall of 2015, as Ferrier fought to end the statute of limitations in Colorado, and Montgomery County prosecutors were reopening a Cosby-Constand investigation that had been shuttered by a previous district attorney, Ferrier said she wrote to Constand and told her: “Open it up. Pursue it. Be the one that has the voice for all of us.”
Ferrier said she got a message back – the last time she had heard from Constand: “From now on it’s going to be incredibly difficult to speak to you.”
“I’m still waiting for that moment when I get to meet her,” Ferrier said,”and stare Cosby down.”
Regardless of the verdict, these women were not insistent on prison time or even a conviction for Cosby. Several said they take satisfaction in the damage that already has been done to Cosby’s reputation, which they viewed as his lifeblood.
“If he could be put under house arrest and under constant surveillance — no book deals, no movie deals, no TV deals, no going out on tour — that would be the only punishment that would mean something to him,” Thomas said.
As for the potential for prison time, she added: “He’s 79 years old, and after all of this if someone finds themselves alone with him accepting a cup of anything, shame on them.”