TORONTO — Among the dozens of women who accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault, it was the steely resolve of a Toronto woman that finally brought justice.
Andrea Constand has remained intensely private throughout a high-profile trial that culminated this week with “America’s Dad” being imprisoned for drugging and violating her in 2004.
Before the assault, Constand says in a victim impact statement that she was a confident, spirited 30-year-old athlete. In the years that followed, she grew anxious, ashamed and felt helpless.
On Wednesday, she was lauded for her inspiring “courage and strength” by prosecutor Kristen Feden.
Here’s a look at Andrea Constand:
WHO SHE IS: Now working as a therapeutic massage practitioner, the Toronto native is a former varsity basketball star who began her athletic career as a high school shooting guard in the city’s east end. She established herself as a teenage phenom who would be courted by dozens of U.S. colleges, ultimately accepting a scholarship from the University of Arizona. She played professionally for 18 months in Italy and then accepted a job as director of operations at Temple University.
MEETING COSBY: The two met while Constand worked at Temple, where Cosby, then in his mid-60s, was a fixture on campus as one of the school’s most famous former students and fundraisers. Constand has said she regarded the relationship as “a sincere friendship” that included dinners out, gifts and visits to Cosby’s houses in Philadelphia and New York.
THE ALLEGATION: Constand has said everything changed one day in January 2004 when Cosby invited her to his Philadelphia home. She testified Cosby gave her three blue pills he called “your friends” and then penetrated her with his fingers as she lay immobilized, unable to resist or say no. Cosby claimed the encounter was consensual, and that he gave her the cold and allergy medicine Benadryl to relax.
THE AFTERMATH: In a victim impact statement, Constand says she was consumed by self-doubt and confusion after the assault. She focused on work and returned to Canada but kept her secret from friends and family. When she finally confided in her mother and reported the assault to police, that only brought more fear and shame. The media circus that ensued included character attacks on her and her family, while a 2005 civil case forced her to relive the horrifying event. A resulting settlement did not end the pain, but as dozens more women came forward with more accusations, she says she knew “I had to testify” in the criminal trial.
THE FUTURE: “Instead of looking back, I am looking forward to looking forward. I want to get to the place where the person I was meant to be gets a second chance.”
The Canadian Press