In a neat and unexpected twist of justice, one of the first women who publicly accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault may be the first to see legal retribution. On Wednesday morning, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, prosecutor Kevin Steele charged Cosby with a first-degree felony—aggravated indecent assault—for his alleged drugging and sexual assault of Andrea Constand in 2004.
It shouldn’t take one Pennsylvania prosecutor’s authority to convince the public to believe scores of brave women over one famous man. But in a culture that perpetuates the myth of a vengeful, unstable liar who cries rape—and a year that gave fresh rounds of ammo to people who want to believe that most claims of sexual assault come from women who regret consensual sex after the fact—legal validation of a report of Cosby’s alleged abuse is an important win for survivors of sexual assault. Over the past year, Cosby has made several active attempts to demean and discredit his accusers. His attorneys have called their allegations “illogical” and “ridiculous.” He’s mocked his alleged victims onstage to gleeful applause in Ontario, where he told an audience member “You have to be careful drinking around me.” Earlier this month, the multimillionaire sued seven of his accusers for monetary damages for defamation.