In recent months, Americans have been struggling to reconcile shocking allegations with what they thought they knew about legendary comedian Bill Cosby. For decades, Cosby has been hailed as a comedian who is also a devoted family man and role model. He has also been an outspoken critic of what he feels are the irresponsible behaviors and attitudes of the black community.
Now, in his late 70s, Cosby’s clean, family-man image has been shattered by allegations from dozens of women. The women, who come from all over the country, tell remarkably similar stories of being drugged and raped by Cosby. Most have stayed silent for decades, fearing (probably correctly) that their allegations would not have been believed. The few women who did speak up in the past have largely been silenced or ignored.
Bill Cosby and his attorneys continue to deny the allegations, despite more and more women coming forward. In most cases, it appears as though victims will be unable to pursue criminal charges against Cosby due to expired statutes of limitation. Many are still pursuing civil lawsuits, however.
Although most of the public now believes Cosby to be guilty, he did have some ardent defenders. But that may be changing with the public release of some damning testimony from Cosby himself. Earlier this month, a judge approved the release of previously sealed testimony in a 2005 civil lawsuit against the comedian. In it, Cosby admitted he had obtained drugs, including Quaaludes (a powerful sedative), with the intention of giving them to women for sex. He admitted to giving pills to the plaintiff in that case, but said they were three half-pills of Benadryl (which can cause at least light drowsiness).
As we have previously written, serial perpetrators of sexual abuse are often able to maintain a positive public image – making it harder for victims to report the abuse. Many of the women Cosby allegedly raped were just starting in the entertainment business and looking to Cosby for advice and mentorship.
While it seems clear that Cosby’s career is over and his legacy forever tarnished, it is still unclear what his legal fate will be. Hopefully, his dozens of alleged victims will be able to have their day in court – whether civil, criminal or both.