It’s about time Dr. Huxtable. We are happy about this verdict: Bill Cosby guilty on all three counts of aggravated indecent assault. As many PROOF readers may recall, PROOF was at the June 2017 trial (click here to see my play-by-play posts) and was blown away by the witnesses, especially Andrea Constand and her mother. We also understood well the weaknesses in the case and what would be needed the second time around in order to hope for a conviction (most jury trials rely on some level of hope no matter how solid the evidence). What we got though, was even better.
A Different World
Yup, thanks to Harvey Weinstein and the #metoo movement the world looks a lot different for sexual predators and their survivors in April 2018 than it did in June 2017. Today, we no longer see someone like Bill Cosby, or rather, the image he has hidden behind all these years (and wants the world to believe is real), and say “no way would he do that.” Today, we know powerful Hollywood men are capable of heinous, criminal acts no matter how charming, how handsome, how talented, how married, etc. they might be. In fact, it is those very traits that seem to make them feel all powerful, as if they can do and say whatever they want with impunity. Somehow it is their money, prestige, and fame that makes them they think they can take advantage of others. But, unlike during Cosby’s reign, victims today are speaking out buoyed by the strength of the #metoo movement and all the hundreds of other victims who are speaking out. What a great thing! And so, while the jury can’t take into account #metoo and all that has gone on in the past six months since the Harvey Weinstein scandal exploded, to say that it is not part of public discourse, to say that it’s not part of our (and jury members) subconscious would be to ignore a societal fact. No doubt #metoo played a powerful role in Cosby round 2. Timing is everything, huh Bill?
Story after Story, Cosby Victims Recount Harrowingly Similar Experiences
Second, a pivotal, game changing ruling by Judge O’Neill in 2018 that allowed for the testimony of 5 other victims. Five women who experienced almost exactly what Andrea Constand experienced with Bill Cosby-from the trust building to the promises to the fake friendship to the drugging and the assault. I thought Kelly Johnson and her mother, both of whom testified in the June 2017 trial were amazing, strong witnesses but they, along with the other evidence, weren’t enough to convince a jury. Neither returned to the witness box in 2018. But this year with 5 women telling the same story as Andrea Constand it was hard to ignore their relevance and persuasiveness. Especially hard to ignore was when, through tears, Lashan Chelan, who was just 17 years old to Bill Cosby’s almost 50 when he assaulted her, looked at him from the stand and said, “You remember Mr. Cosby, don’t you? Gives us the chills even today.
Cosby Paid Constand 3.38 million in Settlement of Civil Suit
Third, the defense was allowed to introduce evidence that Cosby paid Constand millions to make the civil suit go away. For the prosecution, this was not great news but it cuts several ways. Did Cosby settle for such a big number because he did it? If Constand didn’t settle the matter and went on to write books, go on television, give interviews, etc. about her Cosby experience certainly the comedian could have thought the damage to his career was going to cost him well in excess of 3.38 million. Cosby’s net worth is estimated to be about 400 million so 3.38 bit of a drop in the bucket, no? So, what did jurors do with this information? Might they think Cosby must have done it if he paid Constand that much money? Or, might it have played into the defense’s theory supported by the Temple employee witness, Marguerite Jackson (whose testimony was not allowed in the first trial), that Constand talked about framing a celebrity for a sex crime so that she could get money? The truth is litigants settle matters for many reasons and now that Cosby has been convicted, it’s safe to say they probably believed he had something to hide and that’s why he paid Constand off. However, it must be noted that in Cosby’s deposition in the civil matter he said he did not believe Andrea was after money or that if she got money she wouldn’t report the incident to police. Apparently, the defendant’s own words had more power than that of Jackson.
Constand Never Asked Law Enforcement to Restart Cosby Investigation
In 2005 when law enforcement decided not to charge Cosby, Constand moved on. She pursued her civil case and obtained the settlement referenced above. She never asked officials to reopen the matter. It was only after Cosby’s deposition testimony became available pursuant to a request by a news outlet and police learned about Cosby’s use of quaaludes and “dropping a Spanish Fly” in a drink to get women to have sex with him that they reopened the investigation and ultimately charged him with crimes against Constand. Note, it was just weeks before Pennsylvania’s twelve year statute of limitations on sexual assault was to run.
Shame on you Defense Team for Blaming the Victim
No doubt Kathleen Bliss and Tom Mesereau made a huge strategy error when in their shared closing argument, they attacked personally Constand and the five other victims who testified. Constand was a “con artist”, a “pathological liar.” According to Bliss, former model Janice Dickinson was a “failed starlet”, who seemed to have “slept with every man on the planet.” Heidi Thomas was a failed comedy star “living the dream,” reveling in the attention she was getting as a witness. In today’s world, many understand better the psyche of the victim, how hard it is for victims of sexual assault to come forward. In this #metoo era, the defense’s public shaming backfired.
Sentencing: Will Cosby Do Time Behind Bars?
The maximum punishment for each of the counts is 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Though Judge O’Neill could sentence Cosby to 30 years, that’s not going to happen. We at PROOF believe it will be more like 2-3 years per count and then he will only serve about a year and a half total, maybe a tad more. So, if Cosby’s health continues to decline, he may in fact spend his last days behind bars but then again, he has endured two trials, scores of accusations and the former funny man is still standing. And, remains feisty, calling District Attorney Kevin Steele and asshole when he asked for Cosby’s bail to be revoked.
Cosby’s sentencing hearing is set for September 24 and 25, 2018.