Usually, as one to avoid engaging in public opinion debates, I would be reluctant to even address the matter of a decision reached in the trial of famed comedian Bill Cosby in June of 2017. I was actually in the process of scripting another opinion column when CNN announced the “Breaking News” that Judge Steven O’Neill had just declared a miss trial. The five-woman/seven-man jury had been sequestered since the beginning of the trial and spent a total of fifty-three hours in deliberation after legal arguments concluded. They’d returned on numerous occasions to inform the judge it hadn’t been possible to get beyond being “hopelessly deadlocked.” He directed them in each case to return and continue deliberations until a decision could be reached to effectively resolve the matter but that effort proved to no avail.
There had been much speculation preceding the high-profile trial beginning with reports of Mr. Cosby’s first accuser. That continued as additional women seemed to materialize over the course of what appeared to take years. Eventually, Ms. Andrea Constand presented information of evident wrong-doing on the part of the comedian as well. Her claim asserted the incident had occurred within a time-frame that satisfied the statute of limitations. It proved to be a defining moment in the development of charges and a subsequent case against Cosby that would adversely affect the rest of his life.
Investigation of the reported charges and development of the legal process required considerable time and the endeavor proved particularly taxing on the Norristown, PA community. Outcome of the lengthy case, instead of representing a conclusion to Cosby’s judicial woes, only seemed to strengthen District Attorney Steele’s angst. In fact, within a few brief minutes of the decision, D.A. Steele announced the case would be re-tried with follow-up judicial processes that began within 120 days as mandated by Judge O’Neill.
Attorney Albright, who represented a number of women in civil cases against Bill Cosby, noted “This isn’t the end of the fight.” She actually cautioned the defendant against celebratory activities as “…round two is just about to begin.” As well, the District Attorney had pretty much obligated himself to see the task through to its end before court proceedings ever began. Given that Steele had campaigned on the premise of bringing Cosby to justice, some argue his motive was as much political, if not more so.
It was truly disheartening to see the icon who’d been billed as “America’s dad” over a period of several decades accused of aggravated indecent assault by more than sixty women. Reportedly drugging a number of them, it was stated that Cosby had a pattern of “convincing” women to ingest what had been described by numerous accusers as “small blue pills” which would result with their being incapacitated. The consequence of women in such a “vulnerable” state was what led to the serious accusations Bill Cosby found himself and a team of attorneys contesting.
Many people, including defense attorneys, argued that if there had been a crime of nonconsensual sex committed it wouldn’t have taken the victims so long to come forward. Cases detailed were to have occurred, in some instances, as far back as the 1970’s but Cosby’s accusers delayed reporting the violations. Much of the confusion stemmed simply from the fact that the statute of limitations had expired which denied most accusers the right to bring charges against the celebrity.
A number of adamant supporters of the life-long comedian levied that the entire process amounted to little more than a conspiracy. This rouge, they argued, had been formulated by entities ranging from culturally oppressive groups to a couple branches of the United States government. The reason: because Bill Cosby had emerged as a virtually infallible representative of the African American culture who’d achieved a nominal degree of success.
On one hand, the situation was being played out in the shadows of a claim that identified an underlying racism which had plagued this country virtually since its beginning. Yet, on the other, the heinous crime of sexual assault remains as one that shouldn’t simply be dismissed no matter what status the, would be, assailant maintains.
Subsequently, Cosby was retried beginning on April 26, 2018 and found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. The defaced star was sentenced six months later, having to serve three to ten years in state prison as well as being fined $25,000 plus the cost of prosecution; $43,611. Some considered it a relatively small price for one the likes of Cosby to pay considering the magnitude of complaints levied against him.
If the accusations did signify a pattern of vicious behaviors from years prior that proved a violation of women’s rights should the charges have been ignored or, God forbid, dismissed altogether? Bill Cosby was, obviously, not the same man who’d reportedly antagonized women in decades past so shouldn’t society have forgiven him in recognition of the “change” he’d made? Considering all his magnanimous social and humanitarian concessions, was Cosby to not be held accountable for what could have been viewed as adolescent indecencies? Or, perhaps this was noting more than a witch hunt formulated to derail one of America’s most successful Black celebrities. I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.