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Victoria Valentino, Bill Cosby Accuser, Speaks About His Overturned Conviction

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Bill Cosby is out of prison. The comedian served about three years of his sentence, which could have run as long as 10 years. But today, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found Cosby's due process rights were violated, and they vacated his conviction for indecent assault. One of his attorneys, Jennifer Bonjean, spoke this afternoon.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JENNIFER BONJEAN: He served three years of an unjust sentence.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Too long, too long.

BONJEAN: And he did it with dignity and principle.

CHANG: Cosby was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault in April of 2018 for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand. She's just one of dozens of women who have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct. Gloria Allred, who has represented many of those women, spoke following Cosby's release.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GLORIA ALLRED: This must be devastating to many of the accusers, and my heart especially goes out to those who bravely testified.

CHANG: Victoria Valentino says Cosby drugged and raped her in 1969. She was in the courtroom when Cosby was sentenced, along with other women who call themselves Cosby sister survivors. Victoria Valentino joins us now.

Welcome, and thank you for coming back on to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

VICTORIA VALENTINO: Thank you for having me.

CHANG: So how did you feel when you heard today's news?

VALENTINO: I was stunned. I was stunned. I couldn't believe what I was hearing because we had just received a letter from the victim advocate division at Norristown in Montgomery County, Penn., courthouse that his parole was denied. We weren't expecting to get that judgment until probably September 25, which would have been three years of his 3-to-10 sentence. And so when we got that, we felt validated and vindicated again. And then to suddenly get this out of left field, I - we are just all stunned, just stunned.

CHANG: I imagine that you have been talking to fellow survivors all day. Have your feelings evolved at all over the course of the day?

VALENTINO: Well, I unfortunately haven't had time (laughter). I've been doing an awful lot of interviews because obviously, you know, everybody wants a reaction. And I haven't had a chance to speak to anyone, except for one particular survivor sister. And I haven't seen anything on the news because I haven't had a moment, but I know that everybody's devastated. I know that everybody is infuriated. I feel personally, and I know that I can speak for all of us, that we've been thrown under the bus. What is the worth of a woman, you know? It really kind of comes down to that. His rights were violated. What about ours? What about our rights to live and breathe and trust and live without being drugged and raped by someone who said that they were trustworthy, someone who endeared themselves to you out of some kind of compassion? He approached me and my roommate out of a place of compassion, or so he said, because of my child having just died. But in reality, he was getting through to me over my grief to my roommate, who he had the hots for. I know that didn't make sense exactly. But I'm sorry. It's been a long day.

CHANG: I understand.

VALENTINO: And I'm really distressed, you know?

CHANG: I understand. We should note that Bill Cosby does still maintain his innocence. On Twitter, he has just written. He writes, I have never changed my stance nor my story. I have always maintained my innocence. Thank you to all my fans, supporters and friends who stood by me through this ordeal. Special thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for upholding the rule of law.

VALENTINO: (Laughter).

CHANG: How do you respond to that tweet?

VALENTINO: Well, you kind of had to be there alone with him in that room (laughter) after he had filled you with drugs, and then you would just have a whole different perspective.

CHANG: Is there anything that you or other survivors are hoping to see happen that can happen at this point to Cosby?

VALENTINO: Well, I haven't had a chance to speak to my sister survivors.

CHANG: Right. Right.

VALENTINO: But all I can say is that to all the women out there who came to us in trust and gratitude for us speaking out and seeking justice and putting our necks on the line over this situation, I want to just say to them, have faith. Stand strong. Keep speaking out. Don't be afraid. Your voices are heard, will be heard and so will ours continue to be heard. We will stand shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity. We will continue to be with you, soul to soul, heart to heart. This is not over. He may be free, but we will still walk in dignity and integrity and in our truth because we know the truth because we were drugged and alone with him. So no matter what he says, we know better. We know different.

CHANG: I hear you say, have faith. And I want to ask you about that in particular because when you came on to this program back in 2018 after watching Cosby's sentencing from the courtroom, you told us about the joy that you and other accusers felt thinking about what his first night might be like in a prison cell. Has today's decision affected your faith in the justice system?

VALENTINO: You know, it's about crossing Ts and dotting Is, not about justice. You know, he has gotten out on a technicality, and you have to stop and reevaluate your faith in the legal system. When he was sentenced, when he was found guilty, our faith was restored. And now even though maybe there is a legal glitch that can support his false claim of innocence, we have to carry on regardless. And I just feel that women and women's issues and women's strength and power and women's rights have just been thrown under the bus. You know, it's been taking me all bloody day to process my feelings on this. In the beginning, in the moment when I was first told, I was really stunned, and being stunned has progressed to anger. And that same impotent rage that, I think, all rape victims feel when their perpetrator goes free and somehow, they become re-victimized by the legal system.

CHANG: Victoria Valentino is one of dozens of women who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual misconduct. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.