KANSAS CITY, Mo - In a room full of advocates, friends and survivors, a well-known actress delivered a powerful message Thursday in downtown Kansas City.
“We had Mira Sorvino come in to speak about the epidemic of sexual violence and how important it is to start by believing survivors,” said Julie Donelon, president and CEO of the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault.
Sorvino is an Academy Award-winning actress and advocate. She is among dozens of women who have publicly come forward with sexual harassment allegations against filmmaker Harvey Weinstein.
During her address on Thursday afternoon at a MOCASA luncheon, Bill Cosby was convicted for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.
A sentencing date hasn't yet been set.
“Mira Sorvino went back up to the stage to make the announcement at the end of the program to let people know about the verdict,” Donelon said.
Her announcement was followed by cheers and applause. Sovrino then tweeted about the experience.
“I can’t think of a more appropriate time to have received that news than with 1,200 supporters of survivors of sexual violence there with us in that room,” Donelon said.
One woman who attended the luncheon said she teared up after learning the verdict.
“Being a sexual violence victim whose going through her own trial, criminal case, you know the statistics and you know how rare it is that they ever see a jury trial and even if they do it’s so rare that they’ll ever get convicted and spend time in jail so this is huge,” Taylor Hirth said.
Hirth was sexually assaulted in her home in 2016. She said this verdict gives her hope that the two men who are currently facing charges in her attack will get the appropriate punishments for their crimes as well.
“I really feel hopeful. I think that anytime a rapist is convicted that gives anybody that’s been victimized hope that maybe they’ll see justice,” Hirth explained.
MOCSA leaders said the verdict is indicative of a broader societal shift.
“What we see in this is that things are changing and survivors can come forward and that they will be believed,” Donelon said.