A middle-aged woman sits silently on a bench outside a courtroom eating sunflower seeds. It has been almost a year and four months since a night on a street corner pulling tricks for crack turned terribly wrong.
More than a year has passed since the woman went back to former GW basketball player Attila Cosby’s Guthridge Hall room, where, according to court testimony, the junior transfer from the University of Pittsburgh threatened her with a gun and sexually assaulted her with a broom handle.
The woman saw a conviction in July. Now she awaits the sentencing.
True, Cosby has a high-powered Washington lawyer on his side, the woman says, but “the truth is more powerful.”
Three women pass by the bench pushing a stroller. They stop on the other side of the courtroom door and look at photos of the baby. Cosby’s girlfriend, Lisa, smiles while her mother stands to the side.
The dark woman with a medium build stands stoically with a police badge hanging from her neck. She had received a grilling in earlier testimony for allegedly getting confidential information about Cosby’s case. Today her godson is the center of attention.
Inside the courtroom comes a promising sign for the women who cross their fingers and clutch each other’s hands in hope for a light sentence: judge Neil E. Kravitz lets a defendant in an earlier case go with probation and no jail time. A lawyer helping with Cosby’s case looks back to the family from his second-row seat and nods his head in assurance.
Away from the courtroom, Geneva Couser keeps Cosby’s son calm, while the child plays with her dangling badge. She comes close to tears talking about the long trial, unlike any she says she has seen in her 17 years as a sex squad detective handling similar cases.
“I just wished him luck,” she says of her only visit with Cosby in two months.
A sense of power overcomes the courtroom audience as a man in a sharp suit walks determined to the rear of the room. Billy Martin, Cosby’s lead lawyer, has arrived.
With a few nods of his head in the direction of Cosby’s mother and girlfriend, Martin makes his way to the stand.
As U.S. attorney Ben Friedman starts speaking, Martin stands calm beside a towering Cosby, with hands clasped in back and head solemnly down.
Lisa Couser sits calmly in the audience clutching a hand beside her as Martin begins. The next five minutes will determine the fate of her and her son.
Cosby already received some difficult news, as his son Malik was diagnosed with a crippling disease called spinal muscular dystrophy months ago. The 16-month-old will never play ball like his father had hoped, Geneva Couser said. Now, Cosby waits to see if he will see the next years of Malik’s childhood.
“He’s good,” a woman next to Cosby’s girlfriend whispers, as Lisa Couser nods in agreement watching the famous lawyer at work.
Across the room the middle-aged woman sits stone-faced, waiting for retribution.
Given the chance for a final word, Cosby turns to the woman with arms held wide and apologizes. “I made a mistake,” he says.
The sense of power Martin impresses on the courtroom dissipates as the judge reads his decision – the maximum sentence on all but two charges.
The middle-aged woman leaves abruptly with her lawyer, and a family in disbelief hurries to meet with Martin.
The family doesn’t wish to comment on the sentencing, Lisa Couser says, only offering: “Malik’s going to be just fine.”