3 reasons why Bill Cosby’s assault charge is a big win for brave women.

Bill Cosby faces felony charges of aggravated indecent assault.

Finally, Bill Cosby is facing felony charges of aggravated indecent assault for an encounter with a woman in 2004.

If you didn't see this one coming, you're not alone.


Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press.

Charges were filed against Cosby in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, after new information surfaced in July that was relevant to the nearly 12-year-old case, according to The Washington Post.

Prosecutor Kevin Steele mapped out a timeline of events on Wednesday, claiming that the comedian befriended alleged victim Andrea Constand before making unwanted sexual advances, and then, in January 2004, using pills that "paralyzed" her before the assault. Constand's account, although disturbing, is unfortunately not that unique.

Since the 1960s, dozens of women have claimed Cosby sexually assaulted them, many saying the comedian used drugs to do so.

Women who've accused Cosby of sexual assault and sexual harassment — Colleen Hughes (L), Linda Ridgeway Whitedeer (C), and Eden Tirl (R) — at a news conference. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

But like so many other accusations against powerful, wealthy, influential, and (at least in this case) universally beloved people, these women faced steep uphill battles in seeking justice — even when the arguments defending Cosby were flat-out ridiculous (thank you, Amy Schumer, for pointing this out to us).

On Wednesday, however, the first battle for justice was won.

This first victory is a truly remarkable win for the brave women who decided to speak up. Why? Because by speaking up, they had to overcome these three barriers (and many others):

1. No one wanted to believe Dr. Cliff Huxtable could be capable of sexually assaulting numerous women.

But we have to remember: Mr. Cosby and Mr. Huxtable are not the same person.

Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

The world fell in love with the Huxtables — "America's first black family" — on "The Cosby Show," with a beloved Bill steering the ship in the lead role.

"'The Cosby Show' debuted during the Reagan era, when the plagues of crack, AIDS, and spiraling homicide were ravaging African Americans," Jelani Cobb of the University of Connecticut told Ebony magazine. "['The Cosby Show' was] huge among black people because it was a counterpoint to the stream of negativity that we heard and saw about ourselves so frequently during those years."

And it wasn't just black people — America fell in love with Cosby and his Huxtable crew, making the show the country's most-watched TV program for five of the eight seasons it aired on NBC.

Off-camera, Cosby's advocacy in promoting education and children's literature further cemented admiration for the trailblazing entertainer who was making the world a better place.

But humans aren't one-dimensional characters. We have strengths and flaws. And even someone like Cosby — who used an A-list career and platform to do so much good — can also be capable of doing so much immeasurable harm.

The comedian the world fell in love with is not Mr. Huxtable. Challenging the world to realize that is a difficult feat these women had to take head on.

2. In many cases, time works against victims of sexual assault, unfairly so.

The allegations against Cosby are no different.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Statutes of limitations — laws that prevent someone from being charged with a crime if a certain number of years has passed since the crime occurred — often hinders a survivor's chance at justice.

Across the country, 34 states have statutes of limitations when it comes to filing rape or sexual assault charges. Seeing as "rape is a crime of shame and humiliation" that keeps many victims from coming forward for years or even decades, as Yeshiva University's Marci Hamilton explained, statutes of limitations frequently favor the violators.

And even if survivors do come forward right away, slow, bureaucratic processes within law enforcement can prevent justice from being served once the statutes expire, as rape survivor Mel Townsend learned the hard way back in 2008.

In Constand's case, Cosby was just days away from being safe from any charges, as the alleged crime was committed in January 2004, and Pennsylvania has a 12-year statute of limitations when it comes to sexual assault instances like hers.

3. Celebrities oftentimes have a leg up in our supposedly blind justice system.

America loves its celebrities — so much so, we can't stand the thought of putting them in jail.

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

There's no shortage of examples to look to. Celebrities have abused their partners, gotten DUIs, stabbed other people, and walked off scot-free (or damn-near close).

"There are two criminal justice systems in the United States," Matt Clarke wrote for Prison Legal News. "One is for people with wealth, fame or influence who can afford to hire top-notch attorneys and public relations firms, who make campaign contributions to sheriffs, legislators, and other elected officials, and who enjoy certain privileges due to their celebrity status or the size of their bank accounts. The other justice system is for everybody else."

A celeb like Cosby doesn't just have the best legal team money can buy, he also has the unique opportunity to belittle his accusers on a stage, in front of an audience of adoring fans who still think he's as clever as ever.

Today doesn't just mark a step forward for Andrea Constand. It's a big win, and sign of hope, for brave women everywhere who've decided to speak up.

Coming out as a survivor of rape and sexual assault can be an incredibly difficult thing to do. Doing it when the violator is an A-list celebrity with millions of trusting fans? That's a whole other ball game.

These women — and the countless others who've defended themselves in the face of injustice — deserve our respect and support.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

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Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

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Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

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In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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