Lena Dunham Sends Message of Support to Survivors of Sexual Assault After Bill Cosby Mistrial
Lena Dunham sent a passionate message of support to survivors of sexual assault on Saturday following the Bill Cosby's mistrial
Lena Dunham sent a passionate message of support to survivors of sexual assault on Saturday.
Her inspiring words came minutes after a Pennsylvania judge granted a mistrial due to a twice deadlocked jury in the case against comedian and sitcom star Bill Cosby — who was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, mansion in January 2004.
“Bill Cosby’s trial is about much more than Bill Cosby,” Dunham, 31, wrote in a series of tweets. “When women see justice served, their own fear & trauma are eased. When they don’t, survivors of sexual assault have to watch every day as the legal system calls them liars and denies their truth. It is an unimaginable grind.”
“My heart is with every survivor reliving the erasure of their own experience today,” she continued. “I see you. I love you. P.S. It’s okay to check out of the news and honor yourself today. Do whatever you need to feel whole.”
Dunham wasn’t the only one speaking out. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s chief public affairs officer Kristen Houser said in a statement that “the proceedings in the Cosby trial demonstrate the widespread challenges encountered by victims of sexual assault and prosecutors in the county” — explaining that” the high standard of evidence required for criminal convictions is one reason why the criminal justice system cannot be the only avenue for sexual assault survivors to seek justice.”
“It remains important for victims to be given the opportunity to tell their stories and for individuals and organizations to better respond to sexual violence and create safer environments,” Houser said. “What we do and say about the issue of sexual violence matters. By increasing understanding of the issue, we can more effectively respond to survivors, enhance community safety, and ultimately prevent sexual violence.”
Houser also explained how “the American public often expects victims of sexual assault to behave in ways that are frequently different from how they actually behave” — pointing to how intense feelings of shame, embarrassment, fear and humiliation can lead to delayed reporting; how inconsistencies in statements can be common after traumatic events, especially when intoxicants are used; and how a deeply distressing or disturbing experience can lead to difficulty recalling details in a linear timeline.
“We must continue hold those who commit sexual violence accountable, regardless of their position in the community, their power, their fame, or their wealth,” she said. “The effective investigation and prosecution of cases at every level is key to changing the way our society responds to survivors of assault.”
The Women’s March also tweeted about the decision. “A mistrial for Cosby, an injustice for all women,” they wrote.
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Cosby’s six-day trial marked the culmination of a scandal that eclipsed his career in recent years, as he has faced an ever-increasing number of similar sexual abuse allegations from more than 60 women dating back decades — all of which he has denied.
The sitcom star, 79, was charged in 2015 with three counts of aggravated indecent assault in connection with Constand’s accusation for which he pleaded not guilty. He maintained their sexual contact was consensual. Constand, who is gay, said their contact was not consensual.
Constand, 44, spent eight hours on the stand detailing her relationship with Cosby and her version of what happened the night of the alleged assault. Her mother, Gianna Constand, also testified, as did a second Cosby accuser, Kelly Johnson. (Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill, who presided over the trial, barred other accusers from appearing as witnesses.)
The defense only called one witness, Sgt. Richard Schaffer of the Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania, police and a detective on the original case, to confirm statements he took by Constand.
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Cosby did not testify in his own defense, despite conflicting suggestions from him and his spokesman about whether he would do so. Judge O’Neill put Cosby under oath to make sure he was okay with this strategy.
While the prosecution took four and a half days to present its case against Cosby, his defense was over in six minutes, wrapping up early Monday.
The Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, jury, which was brought in from Pittsburgh, deliberated for multiple days — returning to the judge multiple times with questions and requests. On Saturday, they announced that they were “hopelessly deadlocked” — causing Judge O’Neill to grant a mistrial.
After the mistrial announcement, the District Attorney said they would retry the cast against Cosby.