CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (KDVR) — A Colorado woman who testified against Bill Cosby in his 2018 retrial calls the decision to overturn his conviction “a punch to the gut.”
Heidi Thomas says Cosby drugged her and sexually assaulted her in 1984. It happened too long ago to bring charges against Cosby. However, over the past few years, Thomas has become outspoken about the alleged crime to help other women get justice.
“I was so amazed that we got Bill Cosby into a court in the first place. I was stunned. And now they’ve ripped that out from underneath us,” Thomas said of Wednesday’s ruling.
Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled the former actor’s 2018 conviction on three counts of sexual assault were null and void because of a rare and complicated legal technicality. He was not set free from prison because the high court believes he is innocent. Rather, it means he can not be punished for the crime in court.
“Sucker-punched is my best description. A punch to the gut. A slap in the face,” Thomas said of her reaction to the news.
She said it feels like the Pennsylvania justices do not care about the victims or what they have been through during their alleged attacks or through the trial process.
“And it’s not just me. I mean, I’m one of all these victims. All of them are reliving it,” Thomas said.
Thomas said she now worries that Cosby’s case will set a dangerous precedent that could discourage other victims from bringing alleged attackers to light.
“Everybody goes on and on, ‘Oh, you were so brave.’ And, ‘Oh, this was so hard.’ Who’s going to want to go through this if they think it’s going to be overturned? Nobody is going to do this,” she said.
Thomas’ testimony, along with the stories of dozens of other women, helped spark the start of the #MeToo movement. Thomas worries Wednesday’s ruling in Cosby’s favor will be a set back.
“They have just absolutely empowered every perpetrator,” she said. “To me, these justices pulled the rug out from underneath all of us and set us back years.”
While her initial reaction was shock turned to anger, she says going forward she carries hope that justice will still be served.
“All I can do is hope that those of us that have been coming forward that do have the strength to speak, I guess we have to be even noisier,” Thomas said.
Thomas’ personal story has also been instrumental in Colorado helping to change the law regarding of statute of limitations for sex assault cases from 10 years to 20.