Advocates said the Cosby trial put the spotlight on persistent myths about sexual assault and did much to dispel them.
“The case represents a rejection of what is a very old, tired and common defense of blaming and shaming victims for their own rape and assault….hopefully defense attorneys will think twice before they pull that out.” – Jennifer Long, former Philadelphia prosecutor, CEO of AEquitas
Sexual assault hotlines have already seen an uptick in calls in recent months, after a slew of scandals involving powerful men from Hollywood to Washington. Jennifer Long, whose non-profit AEquitas advises prosecutors on sexual violence, said she hoped the Nassar case would emphasize the need for law enforcement and the justice system to improve its handling of sexual misconduct allegations. “This has to be a moment of encouragement, where victims’ voices are being heard and these crimes are being pulled from the shadows,” she said.
The case has dragged on for more than two years, prolonged in no short degree by the mistrial. The plodding pace of prosecutions is a frequently cited deterrent to reporting. The trial has also made the incident far more public than an internal investigation would have. Public court records lay out in stark detail the victim’s account of the night, her friends’ names, and details such as how much she had to drink and what she was wearing.
Jennifer Long, chief executive officer of AEquitas, a group that advises prosecutors on trying accusations of violence against women, said victims often fear that those details, if publicly disclosed, would invite attacks on their credibility.