- A victim advocate for Cosby survivors wants them to know that his release doesn’t negate their truth.
- Jennifer Storm supported five Cosby survivors, including Andrea Constand, during the court process.
- She told Insider that Cosby’s release is a “complete injustice” to be blamed on former DA Bruce Castor.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Jennifer Storm, former Victim Advocate of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, stood in the courtroom beside the survivors of sexual predator Bill Cosby in 2018 and watched him get taken away in handcuffs.
On Wednesday, she called up five victims she represented throughout the case — including Andrea Constand — and assured them that the reversal of his conviction doesn’t negate the truths they shared in court.
“Those moments of justice are not lost because this court deemed something technical today that released him,” Storm told Insider Wednesday. “I was trying to, make sure they understand that their voices mattered, that this case alone and their bravery has led to more victims feeling safe to come forward, and more prosecutors believing and charging offenders, than we’ve ever seen before.”
Storm, who left her post in January, called Cosby’s release from prison a “complete injustice,” and blames former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor.
The state’s highest court found that a deal Castor struck with Cosby in 2005 — which promised him he wouldn’t be charged in a case involving Constand who alleged he drugged and sexually assaulted her a year earlier — should have prevented his eventual prosecution.
Castor eventually went on to represent former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial.
“He has consistently been on the wrong side of cases like this. When he was briefly the attorney general here in the Commonwealth, he spoke out against statute of limitation reform for sexual assault victims,” Storm said. “He has historically tried to silence victims of sexual violence. I’ve worked with survivors of other crimes where he completely boggled cases and left victims with less than what they deserved.”
Storm believes whether or not the “deal” Cosby had with Castor is debatable.
There was no nolle pros agreement — a written agreement officially declaring the office won’t pursue charges against Cosby. The deal, she said, was limited to a press release and a few emails the office exchanged with Cosby.
Regardless, if Castor had faith in Constand and the other victims, Cosby would be in prison, Storm said.
“He’s been an embarrassment to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” she said.
Bill Cosby departs the Montgomery County Courthouse on the first day of sentencing in his sexual assault trial on September 24, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
Mark Makela/Getty Images
Wednesday’s news could retraumatize all survivors, including Cosby’s
Storm, who is a survivor of sexual assault herself, told Insider that Wednesday’s headlines have the potential of retraumatizing victims.
Storm said that Constand will likely release her own statement, but needed time to sit with the news. She declined to name the other four survivors she spoke with, and said she isn’t speaking on their behalf.
All survivors, though, should consider utilizing local resources, like support hotlines and rape crisis programs if they need to.
“Anytime we see stories like this in the headlines, it rips open wounds,” she said. “Whether your case is similar to Andrea’s or not, anytime we see a predator walk free, it’s triggering. It’s damaging. It’s painful. And so I would just encourage survivors to engage in whatever self-care works for them.”
Andrea Constand, who accuses Bill Cosby of sexually assaulting her, walks in a park in Toronto, December 30, 2015.
The reversal shouldn’t stop victims from speaking up
Storm, who wrote several books about the path to overcoming sexual assault trauma, is developing a curriculum to support survivors.
She told Insider she hopes that Wednesday’s ruling won’t prevent victims from prosecuting their attackers.
“I think what’s really important is that the facts of the case are not at dispute here,” she said. “The testimony that Andrea gave, the story that she has said from day one, since 2004, when this happened, has not changed.”
What the court took issue with, she said, was with Castor’s choice not to prosecute Cosby when he had the chance.
“He failed to take this case to court,” she said. “What I hope is that it empowers victims to say, ‘my voice is evidence enough, and I don’t care if we get a conviction or not, my day in court is my justice.'”
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