Andrea Constand — whom Bill Cosby was convicted of sexually assaulting — delivered her victim impact statement in court on Monday. On Tuesday, ahead of his sentence being announced, her entire five-page letter to the judge was released by prosecutors.
Constand was a Temple University basketball team administrator when she got to know the now-disgraced comedian, who had strong ties to the college. He became her “mentor” — and then her life changed.
Her five-page letter began with the Canada native’s detailing her successful college basketball career, which led to her later going pro and playing in Europe for a couple of years. She went on to take a job at Temple as the director of operations for the women’s basketball team to manage logistical details and travel arrangements. “I knew who I was and liked who I was,” she wrote.
But one evening in January 2004, “life as I knew it came to an abrupt end.” She said, “the man I had come to know as a mentor and friend,” Cosby, “drugged and sexually assaulted me.” She was “helpless” during the incident due to the drug he had given her: “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.”
Laura McCrystal, a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, posted the letter on social media:
Constand’s letter: “To truly understand the impact that the sexual assault has had on my life, you have to understand the person that I was before it happened.” pic.twitter.com/dKxwo8UmW7
— Laura McCrystal (@LMcCrystal) September 25, 2018
After the assault, Constand initially wasn’t even sure what happened, but “the pain spoke volumes.” She was plagued by “shame,” “self-doubt,” and “confusion,” and handled it by isolating herself from loved ones. “I felt completely alone, unable to trust anyone, including myself.”
However, Constand was “required to continue to interact with Cosby, who was on the board of trustees at Temple, when he would call the school’s basketball office. “The sound of his voice over the phone felt like a knife going through my guts.” When he would come to the office, she was filled with “dread.”
Constand left her job soon after and returned to Canada, hoping the feeling of normalcy would return, but it didn’t. The “pain and anguish” followed. “I couldn’t talk, eat, sleep, or socialize.” And while she was staying with her family, whom she was very close to, she still felt “more isolated than ever.” Known for her big appetite, she lost weight to the point where she looked “more like a scarecrow with each passing week.” She couldn’t sleep, waking up after “two or three hours,” and was just “exhausted all the time.” She started having nightmares of another woman being sexually assaulted in front of her — and somehow Constand was to blame for it. When her mother heard her cry in her sleep, she finally shared her story of being assaulted.
She said going to Toronto authorities to report it only “intensified” her “fear and pain, making me feel more vulnerable and ashamed than ever.” Pennsylvania authorities initially decided not to prosecute, so she pursued a civil suit and said she was smeared by Cosby’s handlers for it.
“The psychological, emotional, and financial bullying included a slander campaign in the media that left my entire family reeling in shock and disbelief,” she wrote. “Instead of being praised as a straight-shooter, I was called a gold digger, a con artist, and a pathological liar. My hardworking middle-class parents were accused of trying to get money from a rich and famous man.”
She wrote that when she received a settlement, sealed testimony, and a nondisclosure agreement, she thought it was over. But attacks on her character continued.
Constand said she didn’t know her accusations were just the “tip of the iceberg” and that “60 other women have self-identified as victims of 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 as a serial rapist [is] over.”
However, it has had lasting effects. She wrote that she’s no longer that “young woman brimming with confidence” that she was before the assault. “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 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.”
Constand, now a massage therapist who works to heal others, wrote that she never married and has no partner. She lives alone. Her dogs are her companions, and her family members — her mother, Gianna; father, Andrew; and sister, Diana, who also spoke in court yesterday in support (her sister called her her “hero”) — are her closest friends.
“Instead of looking back, I am looking forward to looking forward,” she wrote. “I want to get to the place where the person I was meant to be gets a second chance.”
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