Bill Cosby finally had his day in court and he lost. I remember the first time I heard about Bill Cosby. He had recently released a comedy album that a friend had purchased. My friend played the album for our group and Cosby’s Noah routine was hilarious.
Cosby was a cool spy on an early TV show and I even remember occasionally watching him as the kindly family man and caring doctor on a television show. And, I also remember seeing him at Radio City Music Hall with a group of friends doing his one man show. His act was both humorous and brilliant.
Cosby is intelligent. Johnny Carson the late-night talk show and comedian used to introduce him as someone with a doctorate in education, which he received from University of Massachusetts. His thesis was based on using Fat Albert, a cartoon creation of his, as a teaching tool. He was a smart well rounded highly successful family man. Or was he?
Fifty-eight women accused Cosby of sexual assault ranging over a period of 50 years. I heard rumors about him and his predatory behaviors at least 15 years ago. It is hard to believe that this icon, this model of intellect, humor and apparent concern for others actually was, is, a now convicted sexual predator. But in reality, it is not that incomprehensible.
The most glaring message to be gleaned from this case is that sexual predators can come in all shapes and sizes. There is no one single profile of an abuser, molester or predator. And, these villains often wear a mask of integrity and even honor. They occur in all walks of life and their success does not preclude the possibility that they use their wealth and intellect to abuse people.
Another significant and instructive point is that victims who finally come forward must be believed. They should not be dismissed as trying to manipulate or extort the person they are accusing. The overwhelming number of people who report having been abused actually were molested.
There is more here. We have seen many cases of powerful men, well established individuals like Harvey Weinstein and Dr. Larry Nassar, people with highly respected positions, abuse their standing in the community to harm many victims. It is well beyond the time for us to stop protecting powerful people simply because they have achieved a certain status, whether it is as an entrepreneur, an entertainer a doctor, orchestra conductor or a cleric. Cosby was apparently successful in so many ways, yet he drugged and raped at least 58 women. No perpetrator should be allowed to hide if they do that type of evil even if they seem so nice to so many others. No one should be duped by them. No one should come to their rescue to try and protect them.
I find it interesting that Bill Cosby’s attorney Thomas Mesereau fell asleep in court when the judge was re-reading parts of the proceedings to the jury. Mesereau mounted an aggressive attack against one of Cosby’s accusers, calling her a “con-artist” whose only interest was getting “money” from his client. Mesereau said that he would prove it and that Cosby’s other accusers had no standing in this case. Was Mesereau so bored that he slept for 30 minutes in open court, knowing that his client was likely to lose the case despite his efforts to protect him? Was it possible that somewhere inside he believed that his client did do the offensive behaviors he was accused of? We can never know, and it doesn’t really matter.
There is a real possibility that Bill Cosby who is now 80 years old will spend the rest of his days in jail. And he should. I can imagine however that he will plead for leniency given his age and infirmities. I hope the judge rules otherwise. There is no reversing what he did to all those women. His judgement should reflect that.
There is some small consolation for his survivors knowing that finally he will be forced to face what he did to them. They should be commended, even honored, for coming forward and making their case.