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Cosby accusers react to vacated conviction: 'This is not about race, it's about rape'

A group of eight women who have accused Bill Cosby of offenses ranging from groping to rape vowed to continue their fight after he was released from prison.
/ Source: TODAY

Eight women who have accused Bill Cosby of offenses ranging from groping to sexual assault and rape say their anger over Cosby's release from prison has fueled them to push for more changes in the legal system.

The women spoke with NBC senior national correspondent Kate Snow on TODAY Thursday after Pennsylvania’s highest court vacated Cosby’s conviction last week, freeing the actor from prison after serving two years of a three- to 10-year sentence for allegedly drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand.

"I'm angry at the legal system," Victoria Valentino said. "We put our necks on the line and then the legal system yanked the rug out from under us."

"I'm feeling frustrated," Marcella Tate said. "And upset because I feel like a bully has been let go."

The eight women are part of a group of more than 60 women who have made allegations ranging from harassment and groping to sexual assault and rape against Cosby. Cosby and his lawyers have denied any of it happened.

"I'm concerned for the victims of sexual assault, that they will have that attitude of why bother?" Barbara Bowman said. "Why bother telling my story?"

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A representative for Cosby called the decision by the Pennsylvania court a victory for Black America.

"This is not about race, it's about rape," Lili Bernard said. "The only place that race plays into this is the fact that Bill Cosby was disproportionately targeting Black women."

The court overturned Cosby's 2018 conviction for drugging and sexually assaulting Constand, who testified that he assaulted her in 2004 at his home when she was an employee of Temple University.

"Sickened," Kathy McKee said.

"Disgusted," Linda Kirkpatrick said.

The judge vacated Cosby's conviction because of a due process issue, saying that his rights were violated because he was prosecuted after being promised by a prosecutor that he would not be charged.

"He was not proclaimed innocent," Janice Baker-Kinney said. "They didn't say he wasn't guilty. He'll never be innocent. And I think those of us in our sisterhood need to hold on to that."

Two of the women testified in support of Costand during the case.

"I would go back and do it again," Lublin said. "This man has spent two years and nine months in jail, this man has lost his entire reputation. He's lost every bit of credibility that he's ever had."

Seven of the women who spoke to Snow on Thursday were part of a group of 27 who spoke with her six years ago about Cosby on NBC's "Dateline." Last week's decision has brought them together to continue to fight for change in the legal system in many states, particularly changes to the statute of limitations on sexual assault.

"There's a fire inside of me," Lublin said. "That just made me want to go out and make change even more than I did in 2015. This has lit me up in the sense that I need to do something, I need to do more."

"It's starting all over again," Baker-Kinney said. "I am ready and raring to go, and I'll do anything and speak my truth to anyone that needs it."

Some of the women will be at a vigil on Saturday night in Philadelphia.

"We have opened the floodgates for so many people who had previously never felt safe in speaking out," Valentino said. "Predators are being put on notice."