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Bill Cosby will be released from prison. That doesn’t take away from the bravery of the women who stood up to him

July 1, 2021, 12:49 PM UTC

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Amazon requests Lina Khan’s recusal at the FTC, the Olympics changes its policy on breastfeeding moms, and Bill Cosby will be released from prison—but that doesn’t take away from the bravery of the women who stood up to him. Have a thoughtful Thursday.

– Still #MeToo. Today, I’m thinking about Andrea Constand. Beverly Johnson. Janice Dickinson. They’re among the 60 women who were brave enough to stand up to Bill Cosby.

Pennsylvania’s highest court yesterday overturned Cosby’s 2018 sexual assault conviction and ordered him released from prison immediately. The judges found that a prosecutor in 2005 cut a deal not to charge the former entertainer before he gave evidence in a civil suit brought by Constand, the athlete who in 2018 so vividly described the way the assault by Cosby changed her life. That prosecutor’s successors opted not to honor that agreement and brought criminal charges against Cosby anyway. The deal was not a “formal, written non-prosecution agreement,” and Constand’s team maintained they never knew about it. Cosby would ultimately spend two-and-a-half years of a three- to 10-year sentence behind bars before today. 

Cosby wasn’t ordered to be released because the guilty verdict was overturned on its merits, but because of this technicality. And there’s no perfect answer here; prosecutors seem to have made mistakes in their trial of Cosby, as the Pennsylvania decision determined. Cosby had the resources to fight over this technicality for years, as so many others in the criminal justice system don’t. The overturning of Cosby’s conviction could have a chilling effect, making “prosecutors wary of calling other accusers in similar cases,” the AP reports.

But, despite the legal questions at play here, Cosby was a rare example of a rapist convicted of his crimes—drugging and assaulting women—and held to account. And still, it took more than 50 women to put their voices on the line before that happened. 

Remember the raw power of that New York Magazine cover featuring the first 35 women who said Cosby assaulted or raped them? Seeing their faces—women from their 20s to their 80s—and hearing their stories? That magazine was published in 2015, two years before the #MeToo movement changed how society responded to such revelations and allegations. 

That strength was on display yesterday, when women who accused Cosby of assault and rape responded to this unexpected news. Constand, who is at the center of this situation, said in a statement with her attorneys that the decision could “discourage those who seek justice for sexual assault in the criminal justice system from reporting or participating in the prosecution of the assailant.”

Others were more direct. “What does that say about a woman’s worth? A woman’s value?” asked Victoria Valentino, who alleges that Cosby raped her in the 1960s. 

Amid this surprise turn of events, we can’t forget the bravery of these women. The Pennsylvania court’s decision doesn’t feel like justice—but it doesn’t take away from what these women did for us.

Emma Hinchliffe
emma.hinchliffe@gmail.com
@_emmahinchliffe

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Controversial support. Phylicia Rashad, Bill Cosby's former costar in the Cosby Show, responded to the news of Cosby's overturned conviction with support for the entertainer who had been convicted of sexual assault. "A miscarriage of justice is corrected," she wrote. That support for Cosby drew extra attention because Rashad was recently named dean of Howard University's College of Fine Arts. Howard hasn't yet responded. Fortune

- Moms and athletes. Olympic organizers will now allow breastfeeding moms competing in the Games to bring their children with them to Tokyo. The reversal came after the organizing committee had said that the COVID restrictions disallowing athletes from bringing friends and family would apply to children of all ages. Today

- Recusal request. Amazon is requesting that Federal Trade Commission chair Lina Khan recuse herself from antitrust investigations of the company because of her past criticism of the tech giant. The company filed a motion with the FTC over the issue. During her confirmation process, Khan said she had no financial conflicts and would follow the facts. Wall Street Journal

- Gates on gender equity. Amid the Gates's divorce drama, the Gates Foundation pledged $2.1 billion to gender equality work over five years. Gender equality has long been a focus of Melinda French Gates's beyond the foundation (including via her firm Pivotal Ventures). The WSJ reports that Bill Gates had previously questioned putting foundation money behind gender equality work, arguing that the impact was harder to measure than other programs. Wall Street Journal

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Microsoft U.S. president Kate Johnson and Microsoft U.S. Regulated Industries president Toni Townes-Whitley will leave the company. Sarah Personette will become Twitter's chief customer officer. Varo Bank hired Faith Bollinger as chief design officer. LifeStance Health promoted Laura Cervantes from VP of strategic initiatives to EVP of corporate strategy. Kimberly Grant joins the board of Five Iron Golf. TEGNA named Christy Moreno president and GM of KING in Seattle. Ripple hired Sendi Young as managing director of European operations. Americares hired Elana Lopez as SVP and chief people officer. The Ms. Foundation for Women added as board members Gwen Chapman, Charline Gipson, Diane Manuel, and Pamela Shifman

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Network settlement. Fox News will pay a $1 million fine to settle an investigation by the New York City Commission on Human Rights into "a culture of pervasive sexual harassment and retaliation at the network." The network also agreed to waive forced arbitration clauses in some situations—a key issue for the women, including Gretchen Carlson, who have alleged harassment at Fox. CNBC

- Tell me about it. Bank teller jobs have long been a way women got a foot in the door in the finance industry. Today, many of those jobs are disappearing thanks to banking's shift to digital. Some banks are taking steps to address this problem—and female executives like Wells Fargo chair Betsy Duke say they "wouldn’t have been a banker" without the teller job. Bloomberg

- Swipe over lunch. Bumble, the dating app led by CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd, is opening a New York City café. The café and wine bar will aim to serve as a "safe space for healthy and equitable relationships and connections," reimagined from its original pre-pandemic concept of date-friendly foods (think: no spaghetti). Fortune

- Citi's competitive edge. As Wall Street goes back to work, the way different banks are handling return-to-office mandates is setting them apart. Citigroup, led by CEO Jane Fraser, says its continued embrace of flexibility and remote work is distinguishing it from its competitors. Bloomberg

ON MY RADAR

Actress Emma Watson and Twitter’s cofounder back startup aiming to revolutionize plastic Fortune

Child tax credit payments begin on July 15—this tool helps determine if you’re eligible Fortune

Saudi group buys Mumzworld in landmark deal led by women Bloomberg

PARTING WORDS

"It took my breath away, and it’s obviously taking my words away."

-Gwen Goldman, 70, on serving as the "bat girl" for the Yankees. She was rejected when she asked for the job 60 years ago at 10, told that girls didn't belong in the dugout. 

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