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Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Bill Cosby Rape Allegations Scandal

     Bill Cosby, married to his wife Camille for 50 years, is one of the most recognizable comedians in the world. A graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia where he starred in track, the 77-year-old still resides in eastern Pennsylvania. When the former TV star began criticizing certain aspects of black culture a few years ago, he became a somewhat controversial figure. While conservatives generally considered him a courageous speaker of the truth, many liberals and members of the black community considered him a traitor to his race.

     In November 2014, Mr. Cosby's good name and wholesome image came under public attack in connection with allegations of past behavior that violently clashed with his longstanding public persona. On November 16, 2014, 64-year-old Joan Tarshis told a CNN interviewer that Cosby, in 1969 when she was nineteen, knocked her out with a drugged drink and raped her.

     Tarshis said she met Bill Cosby in 1969 over lunch in Los Angeles. She accompanied him back to his bungalow on the set of "The Bill Cosby Show" to work on some comedy routines. After she drank a bloody mary he had mixed for her, she passed out. She awoke to find him removing her underwear. In an effort to avoid being sexually assaulted, she told him she had an infection that he'd pass on to his wife. Instead of raping her, Cosby allegedly forced her to give him oral sex. She did not tell anyone, not even her mother, about what had happened to her.

     Cosby later called Tarshis at her home in New York to invite her to watch him perform at The Theater at Westbury. She accepted drinks at Cosby's hotel and in his limousine before the performance. While at the theater she began to feel drugged. She asked the chauffeur to take her home in the limo where she passed out. The next morning, Tarshis woke up naked in a hotel bed next to Cosby.

     Out of "guilt and shame," Tarshis did not reveal that Cosby had sexually assaulted her for the second time. She didn't think that anyone would take her word over a man revered as America's dad.

     On Saturday November 16, 2014, Scott Simon, in an interview on NPR, repeatedly asked Cosby if the rape allegations were true. Each time Cosby simply shook his head, no.

     The Cosby rape allegation scandal intensified the next day when a reporter with Village Voice wrote about a comedy routine on a 1969 Cosby album involving "Spanish Fly," a drug that supposedly made women beg for sex. As part of the comedy bit, Cosby joked that when he visited Spain he tried to acquire the drug.

     Janice Dickinson, the 59-year-old former supermodel, sat for an interview conducted by "Entertainment Tonight" co-host Kevin Frazier that aired on November 18, 2014. According to Dickinson, Bill Cosby had sexually assaulted her in 1982 after they had dinner in Lake Tahoe. He had invited her there to open a show for him. After dinner at his hotel, he gave her a pill and a glass of red wine. She passed out. "The last thing I remember," she said, "was Bill Cosby in a patchwork robe, dropping his robe and getting on top of me."

     Dickinson told the "Entertainment Tonight" interviewer that she wanted to expose Cosby in her 2002 memoir, No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World's First Supermodel. The publisher, however, got cold feet when Cosby and his lawyers threatened a lawsuit.

     Cosby's lawyer, Martin Singer, in a letter to the Associated Press, claimed that Dickinson's allegations were "false and outlandish." According to the lawyer, she contradicted her story in her memoir where she described stopping at Cosby's hotel room door after they had dinner. When she declined to enter the room, he said, "After all I've done for you, this is what I get."

     On November 19, 2014, a detailed and damaging article about Bill Cosby and another alleged rape victim, 41-year-old Andrea Constland, came out in the Internet publication, Mailonline. In November 2002, the 29-year-old former Temple University basketball star met Bill Cosby. She became a regular dinner party guest at his home and considered him a mentor.

     Constland, while visiting Cosby at his home in January 2004, told him she had been stressed at work. To help her relax, Cosby allegedly gave her what he called a "herbal medication." Shortly after consuming the three blue pills, she became dizzy and her knees began to shake. A little later she was unable to move her arms and legs. At that point Cosby allegedly gave Constand another drug. He led her to the sofa where she passed out. When she awoke her outer clothes and her underwear were in disarray.

     Constand waited a year before reporting that Bill Cosby had raped her. She had returned to Canada, her native country. It was there she reported the assault.

     Bruce Castor, the then district attorney of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, the site of the alleged rape, was informed by the Canadian authorities of Constand's allegations. He launched an investigation. In the Mailonline article, the former prosecutor lamented the fact he didn't have enough evidence to file charges against Bill Cosby. "I wanted to arrest Cosby,"  he said, "because I thought he was probably guilty." But being able to prove a crime beyond a reasonable doubt and thinking that a suspect is guilty are two different things."

     Mr. Castor, in the Mailonline piece, pointed out that Constand's one-year delay in reporting the crime hurt the case. "We couldn't test for hairs, fibers, DNA and drugs that might have linked the victim to Cosby or his house."

     In March 2005, Andrea Constand sued Bill Cosby for causing her "serious and deliberating injuries, mental anguish, humiliation, embarrassment, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, sleeplessness, anxiety, and flashbacks." The plaintiff asked for $150,000 in damages. Her attorney had rounded up thirteen other women who supposedly supported her claim that Bill Cosby was a rapist.

     In 2006, Bill Cosby settled the Constand civil suit out of court. Given the damaging publicity the trial would have brought him, and the relatively small amount asked for by the plaintiff, this was not surprising. Some took this as a sign of his guilt while others simply considered it a good business decision on his part.

     Shortly after the Mailonline article came out, executives at Netflix postponed Cosby's comedy special that was scheduled to air on November 28, 2014. NBC followed suit by scrapping a Bill Cosby project that was in development. TV Land cable network stopped airing reruns of "The Bill Cosby Show."

     On Friday night, November 21, 2014, Cosby appeared at the Maxwell C. King Center For The Performing Arts at Eastern Florida State College in the central Florida town of Melbourne. Following his 90-minute set he received a standing ovation from an adoring audience. One of the male attendees to the show, in speaking to a reporter with the Los Angeles Times, said, "If he raped all these woman, why did they not say something before?"

     The University of Massachusetts Amherst, where Cosby earned his master's and doctorate in education in the 1970s, cut ties with the comedian on November 28, 2014. According to a university spokesperson, "Bill Cosby has agreed to resign as an honorary co-chasir of UMass Amherst's capital campaign. He no longer has any affiliation with the campaign nor does he serve in any other capacity at the university."

     If the allegations against Bill Cosby are untrue, he has been made the victim of a terrible injustice. If they are true, his past as a serial rapist has caught up with him. In either case, the scandal is real and his reputation has been seriously and permanently damaged.

     

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