WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Many who grew up watching Bill Cosby, on Wednesday, watched news that he is now a free man. Sexual assault advocates now worry that his release could have have an impact on survivors of sexual assault here in Iowa.
According to Gwen Bramlet-Hecker, the Iowa program director for the Riverview Center, a group dedicated to helping the survivors of sexual assault, this hits close to home.
"It can reaffirm to survivors something that they have felt from the moment they became the victim of sexual violence, which is, 'I have no power, I have no voice,'" she said.
Bramlet-Hecker also said this can discourage survivors from coming forward with their stories.
"We will get calls because of this because survivors will be triggered and will start to feel that trauma inside them and feel the impact of that trauma again. We will have to work with them to find find ways to help them heal," she said.
This all came about because prosecutors in the case were hoping for some level of accountability. Prosecutors struck an agreement with Cosby not to pursue criminal charges in exchange for testimony that could be used in a civil case.
According to Robert Rehkemper, a defense attorney in West Des Moines, this underscores the importance of victims of crimes coming forward as soon as soon as they can.
"It's a classic example of why it's so important if a person is a victim of a sexual assault or any type of abuse that they report gets made immediately and it gets disclosed as soon as possible," he said. "The more time that goes on, the less evidence exists."
If you need to talk someone, there are multiple hotlines available including:
- Iowa Victim Service Call Center: 1-800-770-1650
- Iowa Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-888-557-0310
- Text IOWAHELP to 20121