Sixty women have accused comedian and actor Bill Cosby of sexual misconduct, many of them describing a pattern of abuse in which he drugged and raped them or subjected them to unwanted sexual touching.Carly Mallenbaum, Patrick Ryan, and Maria Puente, “A Complete List of the 60 Bill Cosby Accusers and Their Reactions to His Prison Sentence,” USA Today, April 27, 2018.
But it was the testimony of Andrea Constand that finally saw him convicted of sexual assault in April and sentenced to three to 10 years in prison.Graham Bowley and Joe Coscarelli, “Bill Cosby, Once a Model of Fatherhood, Is Sentenced to Prison,” New York Times, September 25, 2018.
At the trial—the second, after the first ended in a hung jury—the judge permitted five victims whose claims were not before the court to also testify about their experiences.Bowley and Coscarelli, “Bill Cosby, Once a Model of Fatherhood,” 2018.
Andrea Constand and nine of Cosby’s other victims observed the sentencing.Bowley and Coscarelli, “Bill Cosby, Once a Model of Fatherhood,” 2018.
The case marked the first high-profile conviction in the #MeToo campaign started by Harlem activist Tarana Burke a decade ago and brought to the forefront of media consciousness in late 2017.Bowley and Coscarelli, “Bill Cosby, Once a Model of Fatherhood,” 2018.; and Najja Parker, “Who is Tarana Burke? Meet the Woman Who Started the Me Too Movement a Decade Ago,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 6, 2017.
Victim testimony played a key role in another high profile sexual assault trial this year: that of former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University athletic department doctor Larry Nassar, who was accused by dozens and girls and women of unwanted sexual touching under the guise of medical “treatments” spanning decades.Tim Evans, Joe Guillen, Gina Kaufman, et al., “How Larry Nassar Abused Hundreds of Gymnasts and Eluded Justice for Decades,” IndyStar, March 8, 2018. After Nassar pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting seven girls, Ingham County (Michigan) Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina set aside court time to hear victim impact statements at Nassar’s sentencing hearing.Tracy Connor, “Larry Nassar Complains It's Too Hard to Listen to Victim Stories,” NBC, January 18, 2018. One hundred and fifty-six women—most adults now—made statements over the course of a week.Christine Hauser and Maggie Astor, “The Larry Nassar Case: What Happened and How the Fallout Is Spreading,” New York Times, January 25, 2018. In a statement read by prosecutors, Olympian McKayla Maroney said: “Dr. Nassar was not a doctor. He in fact is, was, and forever shall be a child molester, and a monster of a human being.”Christine Hauser, “McKayla Maroney, Describing Sexual Abuse, Calls Larry Nassar a ‘Monster of a Human Being,’” New York Times, January 18, 2018. At the hearing, six-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman testified in a 13-minute statement: “Abusers, your time is up. The survivors are here, standing tall, and we are not going anywhere.”Mahita Gajanan, “‘It’s Your Turn to Listen to Me.’ Read Aly Raisman’s Testimony at Larry Nassar’s Sentencing,” Time, January 19, 2018. Nassar had opposed the victims’ testimony, complaining to the judge in a six-page letter that it would be difficult for him to listen to them and he was concerned that he might faint.Connor, “Larry Nassar Complains,” 2018. In denying his request, Judge Aquilina said: “I didn’t want even one victim to lose their voice.”Connor, “Larry Nassar Complains,” 2018. For the victims’ statements, see Carla Correa and Meghan Louttit, “More Than 160 Women Say Larry Nassar Sexually Abused Them. Here Are His Accusers In Their Own Words,” New York Times, January 24, 2018.
In addition to the Ingham County charges, for which Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison, Nassar pleaded guilty to three more charges in neighboring Eaton County—where another more than 60 victim statements were heard—which netted him an additional 40 to 125 year sentence the following week.Hauser and Astor, “The Larry Nassar Case,” 2018; and Emma Winowiecki, “Larry Nassar Sentenced to 40–125 Years in Eaton County Circuit Court,” Michigan Radio, February 5, 2018. (In December 2017, Nassar was also sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for possessing thousands of child pornography images.)Jeff Kowalsky, “Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar Sentenced to 60 Years for Child Porn Crimes,” NBC, December 7, 2017. Many of Nassar’s victims have also filed civil suits against him, Michigan State University, and USA Gymnastics alleging that the institutions covered up Nassar’s years of abuse despite repeated opportunities to stop him.See for example RJ Wolcott, “7 More Women File Lawsuit Against MSU, USA Gymnastics Over Larry Nassar’s Sexual Abuse,” Lansing State Journal, April 18, 2018. For an investigation and discussion of USA Gymnastics policies and practices around child sex abuse, see IndyStar Investigations Team, “Out of Balance: An IndyStar investigation into USA Gymnastics,” IndyStar, updated June 27, 2017. Michigan State settled with more than 330 victims for $500 million in May.Will Hobson and Cindy Boren, “Michigan State Settles with Larry Nassar Victims for $500 Million,” Washington Post, May 16, 2018.