The New York Post has some shocking news: a woman who accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault used money from a previous settlement with him to buy an apartment.
Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee, brought a civil suit against Cosby in 2005 saying he gave her pills and wine until she was unable to move and then sexually assaulted her after authorities declined to press charges. Her case then was settled out of court in 2006.
Constand’s case is back in the news because it’s been reopened and, after more than 50 women have come forward with allegations against Bill Cosby accusing him of sexual assault, he was charged in hers earlier this week. The case has been brought before Pennsylvania’s 12-year statute of limitations would have made it moot.
Constand’s original settlement, and the news of the new charges, led the New York Post’s Page Six section to for some reason report on Friday that she used the money to buy a “ritzy Toronto condo.” Writing that before the settlement she “was living with her parents in Pickering, Ontario,” the paper reported that she “got enough money from the funnyman to score a posh apartment in Toronto’s Candy Factory Lofts.” The celebrity gossip outlet also reported, “Constand was spotted walking her two dogs in a park near the stylish building on Thursday morning, and tweeted a photo of one of her poodles around 11 a.m.”
The Post’s reporting implies that something is amiss about an alleged victim using a settlement to buy a nice place to live. But what Constand decided to do with her money has no bearing on anything of importance. While the details of the settlement are not public, many settlements come after plaintiffs seek monetary damages for alleged injury caused by the defendant. Money is often paid out to avoid the costs of going into litigation and after the defendant agrees with some or all of the claims. In this case, Cosby had already offered an apology and money to Constand and her family over the incident before the case. Any settlement money, meant to make up for the injury caused, is free to be used however plaintiffs choose.
The Post’s coverage fits into a larger trend of media outlets that smear alleged victims of assault while praising their alleged assailants. The way women dress or how much they may have had to drink, among other personal choices, often become the center of a story, while the accused perpetrators have been written about with empathy and cast as men whose lives are being ruined.
Details from Constand’s case have revealed some of the strongest evidence supporting the rape accusations against Cosby. The court record for her suit was unsealed in July, and in it Cosby admitted that he bought Quaaludes with the intention of giving them to women he wanted to have sex with. He also said he gave Constand one and a half pills of Benadryl, which he acknowledged would be enough to put him to sleep “right away,” and then had sexual contact with her knowing she wouldn’t be fully conscious and without telling her what the pills were. Constand’s own account of the event, however, strongly suggests the pills were much stronger than Benadryl, as her legs became like “jelly” and she felt “blurry” and “dizzy.”
The unsealing of the documents is likely why the case has been re-opened, given that Cosby’s statements may be used as evidence. For his part, Cosby has denied the accusations and even filed countersuits against seven of his accusers. He remains free after paying bail of $1 million.