Andrea Constand is one of the few remaining women who have a chance to take one of Temple’s most notable alumni to court.
The statute of limitations has run out for most, but not all, of Bill Cosby’s list of alleged victims of sexual assault. Constand, the former director of operations for the women’s basketball team, accused Cosby of molestation and groping in 2005, one year after the alleged incident. The statute will go into effect for Constand’s in January 2016.
Several students in the Beasley School of Law have followed the case closely. Jennifer Caraway, who has worked with homicide cases, said there are several reasons why victims of sexual assault don’t immediately report the incident.
“Victims don’t come forward because they are young, their abusers tell them not to and they are scared,” Caraway said. “The statute of limitations should toll for a certain amount of time.”
Because Constand accused Cosby a year after the incident, there was no DNA evidence, and cases lacking DNA are more difficult to indict. Caraway added Cosby’s prominence has made the case much more notable.
“If Cosby’s name wasn’t attached this would be swept under the rug and society would not think twice about this,” she said. “This case shows that even allegedly ‘good’ people do bad things and that it can happen to anyone.”
Kevin Cunningham thinks the statute of limitations shouldn’t exist when concerning those who have accused Cosby.
“If you can establish a case at any point in history, then the statute of limitations should not exist in sexual assault cases,” Cunningham said.
When Constand came forward, Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor cited too little evidence to prosecute her case, due to her lack of memory regarding the incident.
When she was unable to prosecute, Constand filed a lawsuit. Her suit included 13 Jane Doe witnesses, and was settled in 2006. During Cosby’s deposition for this lawsuit, he admitted to drugging women for sex—information made public earlier this year.
Imani Hudson-Hill said the number of accusers coming forward presents a convincing case in itself.
“I guess in that sense the legal world can be a bit tricky,” she said. “With lack of evidence I can’t necessarily argue. But I think now, with dozens of women coming forth, that is its own argument.”
But Audrey Davis said the circumstances surrounding the accusations seem too believable.
“For all the facts to be so similar, I think that shows this isn’t just some random women trying to get money out of Bill,” Davis said.
In Pennsylvania, the statute lasts until either 12 years after the incident, or until the victim turns 50. While many of the women cannot press charges, there are multiple defamation suits being filed against Cosby—on the grounds that he called these women liars.
Ben Schulman, believes that although all the accusers have a right to voice their complaints, some may have come forward because of everyone before them.
“From the point of view of the law, it’s appropriate,” Schulman said. “If the complaint was large enough, it would have been brought forth at the time. However, maybe these victims have gotten courage by seeing other victims talk about it.”
Lila Gordon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.