This originally appeared in Eagle Rising.
It seems everybody is talking about Bill Cosby and the numerous rape charges being made against him. Yet, I wonder where everybody was for the past three decades. Not being a woman, I should be cautious before asking why so many of the two dozen or so women never went to the police at the time. (One woman reported Cosby in Pennsylvania in 2004. The DA declined to prosecute for lack of sufficient evidence.) Far be it from me to see inside the head of a rape victim. I consider this to be one of the most heinous crimes there is, and the psychological effects must be devastating.
Of course, one must be cautious when it comes to sexual abuse allegations. I just finished reading a comprehensive book on the 2006 Duke University lacrosse rape case (The Price of Silence) and false charges can be made-as it was in this case. As we speak, the University of Virginia (from where I got my masters degree in 1993) is reeling from a gang rape accusation made by a coed that was published in Rolling Stone-and now retracted. A couple of weeks ago, I received a mass e-mail from UVA assuring all the alumni that they are taking it all very seriously, cooperating with the authorities, and blah blah blah, woof woof woof, quack quack quack. At this point, we don't know what the truth is.
While we are on the topic of universities, the whole question of sexual abuse is front and center these days including where I teach at UC Irvine. Cosby, of course, is not accused of raping any coeds on any campus (that I am aware of), but he still has ties to Temple University, his alma mater. In all the discussion on sexual abuse I have read on college sites, I have seen no mention of the Cosby matter. Since Cosby is accused of slipping something into his victims' drinks, it seems there should be some relevance since the number one cause of campus rape seems to be binge drinking at parties. (There also seems to be a reluctance to point that out as if it were blaming the victim.)
Of course, Cosby under the law is presumed innocent until proven guilty. As such, it is unlikely he will ever see the inside of a court of law-civil or criminal- due to the statute of limitations. Recently, LA's number one ambulance-chasing attorney, Gloria Allred jumped (predictably) into the fray. She is representing one of the accusers and asking Cosby to waive the statute of limitations so he can be sued by her client. Fat Albert chance of that happening.
Cosby, however, is not entitled to the presumption of innocence in the court of public opinion. He has acted abysmally when asked by interviewers about the charges. Last month, he twice refused to say one word about the charges when asked by NPR's Scott Simon preferring only to shake his head.
And just days ago, he told an interviewer that he expected the "black media' to to maintain neutrality.
If it were me being accused I would be jumping up and down in front of every camera I could find proclaiming my innocence.
I also wonder where Hollywood has been all these years when it comes to Cosby. If there have been two dozen victims, mostly young women trying to make it in show business, it seems to me that there would be plenty of scuttlebutt about Cosby going around over the past three decades. Has Hollywood hushed it up until now?
Let the lawyers proclaim Cosby's innocence. If he isn't willing to do it himself, why should I?