Hoping rape claims are untrue, not because Cosby is a ‘good guy,’ but because rape is horrific

     In this Nov. 6, 2014 file photo, entertainer Bill Cosby gestures during an interview about the upcoming exhibit, Conversations: African and African-American Artworks in Dialogue, at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

    In this Nov. 6, 2014 file photo, entertainer Bill Cosby gestures during an interview about the upcoming exhibit, Conversations: African and African-American Artworks in Dialogue, at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

    Solomon Jones’s blog post on Bill Cosby reads like the words of someone who has decided in his own court of opinion that Cosby is still a good guy and the growing number of women accusing him of drugging and raping them must be lying. I think his point demands a counterpoint here on NewsWorks.

     

    I read Solomon Jones’ blog post on Bill Cosby (“The Cosby accusations have grown bigger than facts,” Nov. 22) and was surprised that he used this situation to challenge the power of social media. Jones’ assertion that social media has pushed the court of public opinion above any judicial court generally rings true, but in this case, the social media backlash came almost a decade after the lawsuit. So I would argue instead that the court of public opinion has had a very delayed reaction to the Cosby accusations.

    And while I can’t know for certain what transpired between Bill Cosby and the at least 16 women accusing him of sexual assault, the number of women, the consistent pattern, and the 2006 settlement all point in a very disturbing direction.

    But I would not have written about that. I’ve read many articles about it, and I have my gut reaction, but I would have waited to see how things played out over the coming days and weeks, because I, too, like facts. I would not have written anything, except Solomon Jones wrote about it first, and I think his point demands a counterpoint here on NewsWorks.

    I liked the guy, too, but who cares?

    I grew up watching “Fat Albert” on Saturday morning and “The Cosby Show” on Thursday nights. I was raised just outside of Philly, and Bill Cosby was a beloved icon of my childhood. I jokingly echoed Cosby’s “I could have gone anywhere, but I chose Temple” refrain as I chose where to attend grad school.

    So I am decidedly not a person who wants Cliff Huxtable to be a secret bad guy, and I can understand why Jones wants the same thing. His personal experience with Cosby supports the view he holds of the man, the view that most of us held. And our brains dislike cognitive dissonance.

    However, Solomon Jones is downplaying large chunks of the “story” that his column is purporting to address. Jones is entitled to his opinion, even if it’s to imply that the women are falsely accusing Cosby, but because Jones is calling for us to attend to the facts, let’s look at the facts we have so far as I understand them:

    There are at least 16 seemingly unrelated women who have accused Cosby of rape or sexual assault.
    The allegations suggest a pattern of serial rape that spans 45 years. Yes, some of the alleged events took place 45 years ago, but others took place 10 years ago.
    Some of the women reported their assaults to friends, lawyers, or the police at the time, and one attempted to press criminal charges after the alleged rape.
    That woman, Andrea Constand, reported that she was drugged and raped by Cosby in 2004. Citing a lack of evidence, the district attorney did not prosecute.
    Constand filed a civil lawsuit that was settled in 2006.
    Before the suit settled, 13 additional women had signed up willing to testify in court that Cosby had also sexually assaulted them. They did this despite the fact that they themselves were unable to bring charges or sue because the statute of limitations had passed.
    Many of the alleged assaults involved Cosby drugging his victims.
    Cosby has been married to his wife Camille during the entire history of the alleged events.

    This is not a pretty picture, but for Cosby’s denials and silence to be hallmarks of his innocence, we have to believe that all 16 of his accusers are lying, that Cosby at no point drugged or raped anyone, and that these women all made up the accusations to smear his legacy or grab their own 15 minutes of fame.

    What is the correct way to report a rape?

    I will reiterate that I don’t want the allegations to be true. But the reason I don’t want them to be true is not because Cosby seemed like a good guy and was fun to watch on TV. I don’t want them to be true because the idea of a woman being drugged and raped is horrific. And unlike Solomon Jones, my gut, and yes, the facts so far, lead me to believe the women accusing him.

    I find it ironic that Jones is urging us to remain objective and look at the facts while he writes about rape victims this way: that some women who are raped don’t wait decades to report, and “they give their testimony away from lights and cameras.” At one point in the article, Jones refers to the women allegedly raped by Cosby as a “gaggle of accusers.”

    Mr. Jones, they are women, not geese, and your words don’t sound fact-based to me. They sound like the words of someone who believes that there is a right time and a wrong time to report a rape, and that decades later is always too late. They sound like someone who believes that there is a right way and a wrong way to report a rape … and that the accusation is somehow made more believable when it is made quietly.

    Most of all, your piece reads like the words of someone who has decided in his own court of opinion that Bill Cosby is still a good guy and, by default, the growing number of women accusing him of drugging and raping them must be lying. With that logic, you are choosing to believe the denials and silence of one man over the experiences and voices of 16 women.

    Your article is allegedly trying to make one point, but it makes so many others along the way.

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