As a journalist there are some stories that you come across and you try to avoid just because of how passionate you feel on the topic. You wonder if you can be bias. At some point in this whole Bill Cosby fiasco I had told myself I would stay silent as a journalist but as a person I have shared My feelings via social networks. When there were only allegations, it was one thing. Then there came proof that he had settled out of court on one of these claims. Next came the video release of his deposition where he admitted procuring drugs to give women for sex. Eventually charges were filed. I can’t hold silent any longer.
I can understand anyone’s hesitance to believe that Bill Cosby is a sexual predator. I didn’t want to believe it when I first heard it in late 2014. I won’t lie, it didn’t take Me long to come around to believing the allegations based on the fact that apparently this was old news. I am 34 years old, so in 2004 when these allegations first surfaced it would have been off My radar. I was was busy being a teenager, those were the days of late night television and shows like Entertainment Tonight. There was no internet. Things didn’t go viral. Things didn’t linger. So while these allegations, out of court settlement and the such were no secret they weren’t something I paid attention to.
I grew up idolizing Bill Cosby for the role he portrayed on television as did many people in my age group and younger. I let My son grow up watching The Cosby Show and A Different World. I will not stop watching those old shows like some have. I’ve never had a problem differentiating between a person and the character they portray in a production. A lot of people don’t have it so easy. They see a beloved t.v. character and trick themselves into thinking a person lives that type life in real life.
We used to be able to get away with that type thinking. The only things we knew about celebrities were things they wrote inn their autobiographies and the very few personal things that leaked into the media. Not in today’s society. In today’s society we know almost as much about any celebrity, or random person that they know. Social media, 24 hour news stations, bloggers and the paparazzi have ruined the myth and illusion of celebrity. Almost immediately any thing a celebrity does makes it to the internet and goes viral.
As a victim and survivor of multiple sexual assaults myself I have had the hardest time in the last week surviving social media. The Bill Cosby rape jokes and memes had died down until he was formally charged last week. In the past week I have had to say I don’t know how many time in My statuses that these rape jokes and memes were harmful to all survivors of rape and sexual abuse. I had to start unfriending people I know personally because of their callousness on such a serious and emotional topic.
There seems to be a trend of victim shaming when a woman accuses a man of sexual assault. Especially when the man is in a position of power. All over social media I see people, especially black people, defending Bill Cosby’s alleged actions. The reasons behind their defense vary but are all just as despicable as the actions themselves. Some of the statements I keep seeing are among the lines of ” Why would any woman wait so long to come forward?” “If he assaulted them why would they continue to deal with him?” “They should have never went to his hotel room.” “Bill Cosby is being railroaded because he wanted to buy NBC.” None of these defenses make sense, especially in light of the facts we DO know. Let’s examine them.
1.) Why would any woman wait so long to come forward? Well many didn’t. These are not all new allegations. In fact, some of these allegations came to light as many as 10 years ago when Adrea Constand filed charges against Cosby for sexual assault. In 2015 pieces of his deposition in the case were released in which Cosby admitted to procuring Quaaludes to give to women he wanted to have sex with. Cosby settled out of court with Constand. It was only after a joke by comedian Hannibal Buress that brought up this old case. Thanks to the internet information was easy searchable. Afterwards the floodgates opened and other women came forward. Many of these women had been assaulted in the 70’s and 80’s some in the early 90’s. In the 70’s and 80’s it was extremely difficult and humiliating to prove that a man raped or assaulted you, especially a man with Bill Cosby’s stature and money. Many feared no one would believe them and their careers and lives would be ruined. For an idea of what it was like to report sexual harassment and assault in the 1980’s check out this article http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/11/18/1345720/-What-It-Was-Like-To-Report-Sexual-Harrassment-Rape-in-the-1980-s
2.) If he assaulted them why would they continue to deal with him? The term “acquaintance rape” was first used in print in 1978 although studies go back as early as the 1950’s of distinguishing between stranger rapes and women being raped by persons known to them. According to wikipedia acquaintance rape is “Examples of acquaintances include someone the victim is dating, a classmate, co-worker, employer, family member, spouse, counselor, therapist, religious official or medical doctor” Acquaintance rape is less likely to be reported than stranger rapes. It goes further to state ” reasons that rape survivors who have been raped by a known perpetrator may be less likely to report are feelings of shame, self-blame for the rape, fear of not being believed, not wanting to stir up controversy in social or familial circles, and not wanting to get their acquaintance in trouble (Kilpatrick et al. 2007). These feelings are all encouraged by traditional rape myths that perpetuate the stereotype that acquaintance rapes are not “real” rapes” The majority of the women accusing Cosby at the time were up and coming actresses and entertainers. When it’s your word against his and he has the power to ruin your life, just as in the case of many who are sexually harassed at work, you just grin and bear it.
3.) “They should have never went to his hotel room” Some of them didn’t, one was assaulted at the Playboy Mansion, that’s not a good excuse too is it? Also when you’re a celebrity it’s customary to have a suite, not really a room and to hold business meeting, auditions and the like. It was not abnormal that you would meet Cosby in his suite for working purposes.
4.) “Bill Cobsy is being railroaded because he wanted to buy NBC” This line of thinking matches the police story of Freddie Gray is dead because he had a previous back injury. We can not always try to reach back and find a reason why something happened. Cause and effect sometimes are really plain. Bill Cosby is being accused of sexual assault because these women believe he assaulted them. Not because he tried to buy a network in the 90’s. There is no evidence that Bill Cosby has tried to purchase NBC since his 2nd attempt in 1993. he had originally started flirting with the idea and courting the owners in the 80’s. None of these allegations came to light in the 80’s that we know of. None of these allegations came to light in 1992-93 when he was trying to purchase the company. But in 2005 Andrea Constand filed her lawsuit, in which Cosby was deposed and settled out of court.
Now that we have debunked your excuses for why it isn’t even plausible that he committed these crimes let’s look at the facts we do know.
1.) Although Andrea Constand was the first to file charges against Cosby in 2005 for an assault she says happened in 2004 she is not the first to accuse Cosby of sexual assault. Babara Bowman , who in the 1980’s was a 17 year old aspiring actress when she claims Cosby was inappropriate with her, once forcibly holding her down and attempting sex acts and later drugging her and her being sure she had been raped. She penned an essay for the Washington Times last year telling her story of how she tried to tell people until she realized her attempts were futile. She questioned why it took 30 years for anyone to believe her. Bowman was set to testify in the 2005 Constand trial, however it was settled out of court.
2.) We know that Andrea Constand alleged that Bill Cosby drugged her in his home in Pennsylvania and she woke up with her clothes strewn around the room. No criminal charges were filed but a civil suit was.
3.) Former NBC employee Frank Scotti tells the New York Daily News that he paid off eight women on Cosby’s behalf, sending thousands of dollars in money orders to the women to keep them quiet.
4.) Between November 2014 and October 2015 over 50 women claimed that they had been assaulted by Cosby over the years.
5.) New York magazine published and article in July 2015 with 35 of Cosby’s accusers for a stunning cover story, they tell their stories of the alleged assaults and their decision to come forward.
6.) In July 2015 court documents were released from the Constand trial which included parts of Bill Cosby’s deposition in which he admitted to giving a woman Quaaludes. Cosby said he obtained the drugs with the idea that he would give them to a woman with whom he wanted to have sex.
7.) The unsealed documents also confirmed that at least one other Cosby accuser had been named in the Constand trial and was prepared to testify. There were also several unnamed women who were poised to testify that they had similar experiences with Cosby.
8.) This interview with a Philadelphia based newspaper with Babara Bowman from 2006 disputes that these are women coming out of the woodwork
7.) December 2015 Cosby was finally arraigned on sexual assault charges stemming from the alleged 2004 assault on Andrea Constand just 2 weeks before the statute of limitations. He was arraigned and did not enter a plea but was released on 1 million dollars bail.
Do I believe Bill Cosby assaulted all of these women? Honestly no, but I won’t be on his jury. Do I think he assaulted some of these women? Yes, the facts I can prove make it hard for me to believe over 50 women are telling the same lie. Regardless of what I think however, he is innocent until proven guilty. What he ISN’T is a victim. The women he allegedly assaulted are victims, victims of social media, of slander, degradation and defamation. It is painful to watch people tear down the character of women they knew nothing about before a year ago while defending a man they best know through a character he played 25 years ago.
Bill Cosby is no Heathcliff Huxtable, Dr. Huxtable would have never cheated on Claire with over 50 women. If he isn’t the serial sexual predator they say he is then he is a serial cheater. Dr. Huxtable would have never procured drugs to give to young women to relax them before sex. Dr. Huxtable was a man of integrity, he would have never settled with Andrea Constand out of court when she said he sexually assaulted her, he would have fought to clear his name.
I am not saying he is guilty, I was never a witness to these incidents but think for yourselves, and be objective. More importantly, until we have any concrete proof of his innocence or guilt remember these women are assumed to be victims and they are humans with feelings. Stop victim shaming and blaming, put the blame where it belongs. On the person actually accused of a crime.