How Bill Cosby Became Willie Horton and O.J. Simpson, While Evoking Comparisons to Emmett Till’s Accuser
Yesterday I wrote an article about the Bill Cosby verdict where he was found guilty of three counts of Aggravated Indecent Assault and he faces up to 30 years in prison. Bill Cosby has been accused by 60 separate women of various forms of sexual assault, most involving Cosby giving the women drugs and taking advantage of them while incapacitated. I left no doubt that I believe Cosby to be guilty of much of what he has been charged with. If I didn’t accept the word of any of the women that have come forward against him, Cosby’s own words in a deposition taken between 2005–2006 where he admits to giving women Quaalude's for the purpose of having sex, were enough for me.
Many people have responded to my article with comments ranging from refusal to believe in Cosby’s guilt to wondering why he is being singled out for prosecution to why did the women wait so long to relating it to Cosby’s attempt to purchase NBC. Many of the respondents feel the case had a lot to do about race and I happen to agree with them. It is possible both for Cosby to be guilty and some of the rationale for his persecution to be about race.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, campaigned on the promise that he would prosecute Bill Cosby after his opponent, Bruce Castor, the District Attorney in 2005, refused to bring a case against Cosby at that time. Castor said in 2014, “I wanted to arrest Bill Cosby because I thought he was probably guilty, but being able to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt and thinking he’s probably guilty are two different things.” Kevin Steele ran campaign ads indicating, “Castor didn’t look out for Cosby’s victims.” The “victims” Steele fought for were almost all white and the images in some of the ads featuring an unflattering image of Cosby, were reminiscent of Willie Horton. The Montgomery County election that Steele ultimately won, came five months after Donald Trump announced his campaign for President. Pennsylvania unexpectedly went for Trump, in no small part by playing up to the fears of white people. You can believe Cosby to be guilty yet understand that his race played a role in his prosecution
There are no small number of people who wonder why Bill Cosby was tried, then retried after a mistrial, when other men, not eighty years old and almost blind, are not being persecuted for similar charges? Nate Parker, a black man, was acquitted of rape charges in 2001. Fifteen years later, when his film, “Birth of a Nation” received critical acclaim and was gaining steam for the Academy Awards. A coordinated campaign to besmirch him was unleashed and his film suffered greatly. Casey Affleck, who settled 2010 civil suits claiming sexual harassment, won the Oscar, shortly after the allegations became widely-known. R. Kelly still is involved with young girls. Donald Trump has been accused by 19 different women and of rape by a then 13-year-old girl… he’s President. You can believe Cosby to be guilty and be aware of a double-standard. Harvey Weinstein has been accused by more than 70 women of sex related charges including rape, and has yet to be charged. It is alleged that New York City and Los Angeles County are “considering charges.” Perhaps, like O.J. Simpson, the race of the victims made the prosecution care more than they might have otherwise? If Cosby had been drugging and attacking black women, would he have faced a second trial?
There were moments in the trial that greatly increased the chances Cosby would be found guilty. His 2005–2006 deposition was allowed into evidence in which Bill Cosby described his behavior in several cases including Andrea Constand, his accuser in the Pennsylvania case where he was found guilty. The deposition was given conditionally, it could never be used against him… and yet it was. The judge also allowed five additional women to testify to bolster the prosecution’s case. You can believe Cosby to be guilty, and wonder if he got a fair trial.
The accusations of several women was not enough to jail Donald Trump, or Roy Moore, or many other rich and famous men. In a he said, she said scenario where the she is a white woman and he a black male. Did he ever have a chance? One can believe Cosby to be guilty. And wonder about the fairness of it all?
One last thing, the press coverage since the verdict has been one white woman after another taking a victory lap after the guilty verdict. I don’t begrudge his victims being able to salvage some small satisfaction at what will be as close to justice as many of them will ever get. Yet some of the coverage seems almost gleeful as the #MeToo movement settles on #JustHim. Charlie Rose is planning a television series, interviewing other men suffering inconvenience from having their abuse uncovered. Mark Halpern is planning a comeback. Harvey Weinstein is the poster boy for sexual abuse yet he is still rich, and free. The woman who accused Emmett Till, Carolyn Bryant Donham, admitted she lied and got the 14-year-old Till beaten and killed. She’s 82-years old, not much older than Cosby. No jail cells being prepared for her. There is no inconsistency in thinking that Bill Cosby is guilty, deserves to be sentenced and jailed, and yet having it leave a bad taste in your mouth.