Victim advocates say they there's 'work left to be done' following Bill Cosby prison release

Bill Cosby
Posted at 9:54 PM, Jun 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 23:31:00-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It was a shock-wave felt across a community of sexual assault survivors as Bill Cosby was released from jail.

"I do worry that this could send a message that we don't want sent to the community as a whole," said President and CEO of the Sexual Assault Center, Rachel Freeman.

With all eyes on Bill Cosby's release from prison, Freeman is instead turning to survivors.

"When an assailant is released, when an assailant is let go, when an assailant is never prosecuted it could cause so many negative reactions for a survivor. It can bring back the feelings of fear, of anxiety, depression, hopelessness, shame, guilt."

Freeman serves about 1,200 victims a year through Nashville's Sexual Assault Center.

Now that Cosby is free, she says justice was not served. "It does not mean though that these victims and survivors' voices weren't heard. A lot of this case and what's happened over the years has changed the conversation around supporting and believing survivors."

His high-profile trial and conviction was among the first of the MeToo era, opening the door for other victims to come forward.

"With looking at the statistics of how few people are ever prosecuted or ever sentenced or punished or caught for doing sexual assaults- the fact that Bill Cosby was was a big moment in this field and in this movement," said Freeman.

Freeman hopes the news won't discourage others from speaking out, but instead unite survivors and supporters to push forward.

"This change- his release- does not mean that he did not commit the sexual assaults. So we have to remember that," she said. "Don't look at this as a step backward - it might feel that way, it might feel like a punch to the gut to many of us- but there is so much work left to be done and we believe you, we support you, and we're going to keep up this good fight regardless of what happened today."

If you need help, you can contact the Sexual Assault Center at (86) 811-7473 or click here.