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Local survivor and attorney on the fight for justice in sexual assault cases: 'I hope this doesn't deter victims from coming forward'

Posted at 12:22 AM, Jul 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-01 00:22:36-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Comedian, actor, and author, once known as "America’s Dad,” Bill Cosby, is out of prison after Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court overturned his sexual assault conviction on Wednesday.

Cosby was sentenced in 2018 to three to 10 years in prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at Cosby's home in 2004.

In turn, WRTV spoke with an attorney and a sexual assault survivor about the fight for justice in sex assault cases.

"There's nothing in it for these victims to come forward. This is not a way for them to get rich. This is not a way for them to advance in their careers. This is excruciating for them to come forward,” Indianapolis attorney Hannah Joseph, founding partner of Jeselskis Brinkerhoff and Joseph, LLC said.

It's gut wrenching topic for survivors, one that has played out time and time again; victims who have mustered up the courage to come forward and seek justice.

"It's really disheartening and it kind of makes you take a step back and question why you're doing what you're doing and if it's worth it,” Gabby Brock, a survivor of sexual assault said.

"I can't tell you how many times clients or potential clients will come to us and say, 'I'm afraid that I'll get blackballed. I'm afraid that if I come forward then I'll never get a job in this industry again because I'll be labeled a troublemaker,'" Joseph said. "To watch as so many people walk free after in some cases admitting to harassment or assault, it's just so discouraging."

Joseph said that's why she's working to do more by challenging Indiana lawmakers to do better.

"They have terrible protection and the policies that are in place in the legislature are just the bare minimum. What we're really hoping to do is to make sure there's a consistent policy for the whole state of Indiana,” Joseph explained.

Haleigh Rigger with Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking (ICESA) said seeing more high-profile cases play out can trigger survivors.

"I think it's more about reminding survivors that their stories matter no matter who they told. That they're important no matter what their path of healing looks like and maybe talking more of what justice and accountability mean,” Rigger said.

Brock agrees.

"Once we get to the point that people aren't afraid of repercussions from coming forward, then we can get to a place where justice is served, and that change is made, and that this doesn't happen anymore."

They're now hoping the outcomes of high-profile cases don't deter victims from coming forward.

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