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Cosby Accuser Victoria Valentino Reacts To Sentencing


Bill Cosby spent his first night in a Pennsylvania prison last night. It was the start of his three- to 10-year sentence for sexual assault. After yesterday's sentencing, a Cosby spokesman called the trial racist and sexist. Gloria Allred, a lawyer for some of Cosby's 60 accusers, called it a very important day.


GLORIA ALLRED: We're glad that judgment day has finally come for Mr. Cosby. Mr. Cosby has shown no remorse. And there has been no justice for many of the accusers who were barred from a court by the arbitrary time limits imposed by the statute of limitations.

CORNISH: Victoria Valentino is one such woman. She says Cosby drugged and raped her in 1969 when she was working as a model - at one point, a Playboy model. Valentino is now 75 and a retired nurse. She was in the courtroom yesterday along with other women who call themselves Cosby sister survivors. I spoke to her earlier this morning, and she told me about the moment she heard the sentence read out loud.

VICTORIA VALENTINO: We were all sitting in the back row holding each other's hands. We were all shaking and crying. So we were hoping actually to see him get the handcuffs put on him, but we didn't.

CORNISH: But why? Why would that matter?

VALENTINO: It was somehow some feeling of resolution because he had basically incarcerated us spiritually, emotionally, psychologically. And so it was really a very, very important thing I think for us to actually see it happen. But then we were ushered out of the courtroom. And when they finally brought him out in handcuffs with his white shirt and his baggy trousers with suspenders in those handcuffs in front of him, not not behind his back, and they were - he was kind of shuffling. And for a moment, I felt more compassion for him than he ever had for any one of us.

CORNISH: Can I ask you more about that? Bill Cosby is an elderly man now. The defense has talked about him being blind. Can you talk about that more?

VALENTINO: Well, yeah. I saw this old man who was diminished, the man that we'd all been afraid of because he was so powerful and our lives had been dominated by him, whether it was in those few minutes that we were actually being raped by him or just the aftermath. But then when I saw this kind of jokey smirk on his face, all bets were off. And I remembered how arrogant and how pompous and how entitled he was.

And then I realized, no, I have no compassion, no pity because I know. I know the destruction that he has caused in so many lives. And there is a generational trickle-down because we all have intimacy and trust issues. We have a lot of issues that we don't even realize that we're passing on to our children and then they pass on to their children. So I have no compassion for him. Last night was his first night spent (laughter) in a jail cell. And, man, I think we are all absolutely delirious with joy.

CORNISH: For the last two years, we've been hearing so much about the sexual abuse, the assault of women. The #MeToo movement has really exposed a lot of that. Do you see it as a sign that society is actually taking these cases more seriously?

VALENTINO: Well, absolutely. And we have to understand that we birthed essentially the #MeToo movement. Even though it was happening, it was not public.

CORNISH: And we meaning Bill Cosby accusers.

VALENTINO: We, the sister survivors of Bill Cosby. And when we started speaking out and they found out that we were not crucified, eviscerated, assassinated, I think it gave courage to many women, especially women in the business who were dealing with wealthy, powerful men, not always famous of course like Bill Cosby. But it gave them courage to speak out and say, yeah, me, too, and I'm not taking it anymore.

CORNISH: Looking at your life working at Playboy to this moment now as an activist, it seems like you sort of span this transformation about how our culture thinks about sexual assault and sex crimes. Is that something that has been reassuring in some way? Do you see change?

VALENTINO: Oh, I do. And personally, I see a lot of change in my own life. You know, I've gone from a place of objectification to self-actualization. There was a time back in the '60s and the '50s where we glorified in our own objectification. And now we're waking up. And now we understand it. And now we're saying no, and we're not taking it anymore. And if you want to step up and walk with me side-by-side, great. Otherwise, stand back.

CORNISH: What's not being talked about here that you would like to see going forward?

VALENTINO: Well, I think what's really not being talked about, frankly, is all of the post-rape symptoms, PTSD symptoms, those kinds of traumatic behaviors because always the question is, well, one, why did you take so long to report? Two, you know, why are you reporting now, and how did it impact your life? And why did you continue to possibly - you know, some people continued to go out with that person or have some kind of dealings with them. And everybody immediately discounts the fact that they were actually raped because of the continued contact.

So the public needs to be educated. And even though people say they understand, you can almost feel them withdrawing from you, stepping back as if you have a disease, as if you're a leper or if you smell bad, you know? And it's a pervasive, pervasive illness in our society.

CORNISH: Having watched this prosecution, watched this process, what would you consider an improvement going forward?

VALENTINO: Well, I think consciousness has been raised about the statute of limitations. I think it has raised consciousness about what a woman's worth is in our society in 2018. I think it has raised consciousness about the fact that we are constitutionally not equal because the ERA still has not been ratified.

CORNISH: And this is the Equal Rights Amendment, a proposal...

VALENTINO: Absolutely.

CORNISH: ...That's been around for a few decades now, I think.

VALENTINO: Yeah. And it has not been ratified across the board. I think we need one or two more states. And so abolishing the statute of limitations on rape and sexual assault nationwide, ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment - I think these are things that are absolutely critical, absolutely integral to the society that we want our children and our grandchildren to live in from here on out. And if this is the platform that we now have, then, you know, that's - we have to use it.

CORNISH: Victoria Valentino, thank you so much for speaking with ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

VALENTINO: Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF GOGO PENGUIN'S "KAMALOKA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.