Over the past year, numerous women have came out and accused actor and comedian, Bill Cosby of drugging them and sexually assaulting. A total of sixty women have publically accused him of drugging and raping them. Many people are outraged by these allegations while others don’t believe Bill Cosby is capable of committing such acts. However, Bill Cosby’s recent arrest warrant for a 2004 sexual assault of Temple University basketball player and employee, Andrea Constand signifies the beginning of continuing public scrutiny and possible imprisonment for Bill Cosby. Hence the importance of speaking up against and speaking out against rapists and men who harm women.
Growing up, I admired Bill Cosby’s contribution to the entertainment industry. I watched reruns of The Cosby Show and Different World and movies such as Fat Albert. I loved the fact that his comedy routines weren’t full of swear words and degrading Black women. He was one of the few, famous Black people that I looked up to as a child because of his wholesome image and his contribution to the entertainment industry and Black America. He was seen as ”America’s Dad”. Anything that I heard about him sexually assaulting a woman and settling out of court didn’t register on my mind because I believed him to be a good man. However, a series of events that happened in the past year changed my mind on Bill Cosby.
Back in October 2014, Angry Birds star and comedian, Hannibal Buress was filmed bringing up Bill Cosby while on one of his comedy routines. He criticized Bill Cosby’s respectability politics rhetoric of telling young, Black boys to ”pull up his pants” due to his wholesome image and having a ”successful sitcom”. Then Hannibal Buress mentioned that Bill Cosby raped women. The video went viral and was spoken about for weeks. Many women used this opportunity to come forward and talk about their experiences of being raped by Bill Cosby including former model, Janice Dickinson. However brought up an important discussion about the perception of Bill Cosby’s innocence and how it affects public opinion of him.
Here is Hannibal Buress’ video of him calling Bill Cosby a rapist:
As more and more women came out to talk about their horrendous experiences of being drugged, sexually assaulted and raped by Bill Cosby, I started to have doubts about his innocence. But I wanted to believe that he was innocent. It made me wonder why he hadn’t come forward and dispute these allegations. At the same time, it made me realize why these women hadn’t come out earlier. Many women who have been raped have been reluctant to report their rapes due to their fear of reprisal from their friends, families and society, at large. Add the good reputation, power, wealth and fame Bill Cosby wield in Hollywood and it makes it even harder for women to come out and report their rape. Even though I still had doubts about the sexual allegations made by these women, I knew the truth would come out eventually.
In July 2015, Bill Cosby’s deposition was released to the public. The deposition revealed that Bill Cosby had multiple affairs with many women. He used his fame and power in the entertainment industry to cover up and hide his affairs from his wife, Camille. What it also revealed was that he admitted to buying drugs such as Quaaludes to give to women that he wanted to have sex with. He used his fame, apparent concern for advancing their careers and drugs to seduce women that he wanted to sleep with. His deposition was in response to Temple University employee and basketball player, Andrea Constand’s accusations in 2004 that he raped her and accusations made by other women. Bill Cosby claimed that sexual contact between him and Andrea Constand was consentual. Constand, on the other hand, claimed that she was in and out of conscious after being given the pills during sexual contact. However releasing the deposition to the public opened my eyes to the truth. Even though the deposition wasn’t exact proof of his crimes, it did show me Bill Cosby’s predatory patterns of luring women into his trap and then drugging and raping them. Hence I, now, believe Bill Cosby to be a sexual predator and rapist.
On July 27, 2015, thirty five women out of forty eight women who accused him of raping them, appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. These women spoke about their experiences of being raped by Bill Cosby. Their appearance on the cover sparked and brought up an important discussion on victims of rape and rape culture in society.
Here is a picture from the magazine of thirty five out of these women that accused him of rape:
Afterwards, more women came out publically to accuse him of drugging and sexually assaulting them. The number of women who accused Bill Cosby of rape continued to increase as more people believed him to be guilty of such crimes. As of recently, sixty women have came out publically, accusing Bill Cosby of sexual assault. Bill Cosby countersued seven of the women who made such allegations against him including Beverly Johnson for defamation of character. Many people saw him countersuing these women as a way to resurrect his reputation however, the damage done to his reputation has been done.
On December 30th, Bill Cosby was arraigned on a sexual assault charge that dated back to Andrea Constand’s 2004 accusation against him. His arrest came a month before the statue of limitations ran out in January 2016 in Pennsylvania. He was charged with felony charges of indecent assault, arrested and released on an one million dollar bail. If Bill Cosby is convicted of sexual assault, he will have to register as a sex offender and spend ten years in prison.
Here is a picture of his mug shot:
Why did most of his victims wait so long to talk about their experiences?
Many rape victims fear speaking out against their rapist due to fear of reprisal from family, friends and society. Many of them fear that others wouldn’t believe them or blame them for their own rape. In the case of Bill Cosby’s debacle, these women feared coming out because they feared that no one would believe them and feared Bill Cosby’s wealth and power would have made sure these allegations didn’t see the light of day. Bill Cosby’s image as ”America’s Dad” blinded many of the women that he eventually took advantage of and raped. There were many people in Hollywood who knew about what he was doing but they turned a blind eye to it. Many people in the entertainment industry protected Bill Cosby from ever facing reprisal for his crimes against women. Fortunately, it took Hannibal Buress, a comedian to bring up Bill Cosby’s crimes against women and bring it to public consciousness. Hence the shaming and silencing of rape victims signals the rampant misogyny and embracing of rape culture in society.
Many critics believe that these women were only out for Bill Cosby’s money. Their logic falls to realize that the statue of limitations have ran out for most of these women except in Andrea Constand’s case and don’t have anything to lose. These women are beyond their prime and retired. These women are looking for solace and justice after their lives and bodies were destroyed by Bill Cosby. If anything, these women would be the least likely to look for a handout by a wealthy entertainer who raped them and got away with it. Hence the reason why Bill Cosby was allowed to get away with his crimes until recently.
Most of all, Bill Cosby’s arrest and arraignment was justice for the many women he raped and sexually assaulted. Now the public is aware of the agony, pain and distraught these women went through in the hands of Bill Cosby. Regardless of those who continue to defend Bill Cosby under the guise of ”Black Unity” and ”protecting his legacy”, the truth has come out about Bill Cosby’s crimes against women. Hence the reason why Bill Cosby is getting his day of reckoning and all of his past sins are coming back to haunt him.