Questions About the Cosby Verdict

On April 26th, 2018, a jury convicted actor and comedian Bill Cosby on three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He faces 10 years and a potential $25,000 fine for each count.

The media and #Metoo activists have hailed the conviction as the first “win” for the #MeToo movement. That is a fair assessment. While the allegations against Cosby predate the Weinstein scandal, many people have associated his situation with the scandal. They argue that this is another example of powerful men exploiting women.

Cosby’s situation is different not only in his alleged method of assault — drugging the women — but also in that most of the women accusing him claim the acts occurred decades ago. This leaves little to no physical evidence for most of the case, and little circumstantial evidence short of the women telling someone the claim over the years.

That said, I do not have a problem with the conviction per se. If the evidence were convincing beyond a reasonable doubt, then a jury should convict.

The problems I have with the case lie in the way it was prosecuted and handled. Let me start with the most bizarre element of the case:

Assistant District Attorney Kristen Feden portrayed Cosby as a sexual predator who used his TV image as a man of wholesome values to target women he believed he could silence. Prosecutors called five other women who alleged that Cosby also sexually assaulted them in a manner similar to the way he assaulted Constand.

These five other women are not witnesses from other cases against Cosby that resulted in conviction. They are merely women who claim Cosby assaulted them. While I am certain their testimony was compelling, it does not strike me as ethical to include them in this case. These women effectively tried Cosby without him being able to truly mount a defense.

To bring in people claiming assault unrelated to the present case seems highly biased. Indeed, that bias appears to have been the reason for their inclusion:

Last month, O’Neill ruled that the additional accusers could testify so the prosecution could try to establish that the assault on Constand fit a pattern or that Cosby knew what would happen when he drugged Constand.

The problem is that you have not established a pattern of assault. You instead established a pattern of accusations. Had Cosby been convicted in any of these cases, that would be a different matter. It would still be possible for him to be innocent of the accusations, but at least one would have some legal backing to support his guilt.

Instead, this amounts to someone saying, “He did it to me, too!” while never truly having to prove that statement in court. This makes Cosby’s conviction look less like one concerning the particular woman who brought the case and more about the now six women who testified that he assaulted them.

Again, this seems highly unethical.

This is not the first time I have seen something like this. The prosecutor used a similar tactic in Michael Jackson’s 2005 sex abuse case, bringing in witnesses who claimed they saw Jackson assault other children but never reported it. In Jackson’s case, this worked against the state’s case.

Cosby, however, had to contend with the shift in the social narrative thanks to the #MeToo movement. People are looking for a conviction of someone from the Hollywood power sphere, and it’s possible that this is one of the reasons for his conviction.

Another strange element was the jury’s apparent confusion over the definition of consent:

Jurors also asked a series of questions, including one that goes to the heart of the case against the former TV icon: “What is the legal definition of consent?”

That key question came around 1 p.m., less than two hours after the 12-person jury began deliberating the case. Cosby is on trial on three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

O’Neill told the jurors he could not answer the question.

“The jury will decide what consent means to them,” he said.

This is precisely the problem with playing with the definition of consent. It should be fairly obvious that consent is simply someone knowingly and willingly engaging in an act without coercion or threats. That anyone, particularly adults, should be confused about this is astounding. That this confusion could affect the verdict in a trial is far more frightening.

What is truly disturbing is that the judge actually could have answered the jury’s question as Pennsylvania does have legislation regarding consent. It makes no sense not to inform the jury of this given that it is part of the state criminal code.

I suspect the jury would have convicted Cosby regardless of these two questions, and that is because the accusation against him sounds plausible. By his own admission he had procured drugs to give to women. It seems more likely that he did drug Andrea Constand, and given her testimony, it is possible to conclude that beyond a reasonable doubt, even if part of the sexual encounter began as consensual.

That said, it is troubling that in a high-profile case we have such questionable tactics, particularly given that the five women’s testimony could result in an appeal. Again, it is unethical to include such testimony, and I do not think Cosby’s attorneys will have much trouble making that case. Whether they are successful is a different matter.

Given the nature of the case and the potential social backlash, it is possible the appellate court would uphold the verdict despite the ethics problems.

9 thoughts on “Questions About the Cosby Verdict

  1. You just exposed two grievous errors in prosecuting this case. First, if it were Willie Sutton accused of bank robbery, the only testimony that should be pertinent would be about the incident with which he is charged. Did he rob the bank at the date and time that he is charged with? Second, consent is fundamental to rape. It is the only thing that separates rape from sex. If the jury is confused about it, that should void the conviction.
    A youtuber had a thought in regards to this matter generally. If the man has sex with the woman, he has lost all ability to defend himself. After the fact, she can claim anything she wants.
    This is not going to end well.

  2. The so-called “justice” system is not there to find the truth. It is there to enforce current political orthodoxy at the point of a gun. Just ask Dred Scott or look up Plessey v. Ferguson. The conviction will be appealed and the appeal will be denied using the phrase “finding no reversible error”. I have first hand experience with the witch hunts.

    Cosby will be crucified on the cross of political orthodoxy, not the rule of law (which doesn’t exist and never has). Plato’s Republic has an extensive dialog on the fact there is no such thing as “justice”. MGTOW ghost monk is the only sane course of action in the era of #MeToo. We are all Cosby now. Cheers, I think.

  3. While I take your points, I cannot – as an amateur, though I guess reasonably informed one – find this conduct much more grievous than in sexual assault trials generally. On the other hand, I can think of scores of cases where guilt was significantly less likely. If I would lobby against fairness for the accused, this would not be the place to start…

  4. It seems to me from an outsider that such an avalanche of accusations against Cosby couldn’t be possible if he was innocent because otherwise, it would mean a conspiracy. And how would you shut enough people up to stop it spilling out?

    On the flip side, this does seem to be quite poor handling. His guilt may have seemed – to the jurors – to be a foregone conclusion, so they were sloppy in how they managed the case.

    As for the “metoo” movement (I don’t use the hashtag because I don’t want to give them the dignity), they already have no respect from me after:

    1) Dismissing female-on-male abuse and male abuse victims.
    2) Remaining notably silent on (and tolerant of) Cristina Garcia.

  5. It seems to me from an outsider that such an avalanche of accusations against Cosby couldn’t be possible if he was innocent because otherwise, it would mean a conspiracy.

    Well, if you get enough momentum with false accusations, it’ll just snowball. Especially if you can make consensual encounters seem dubious.

  6. The women willing went with a celebrity, they willing took drugs that were handed to them and was fully expecting sex to occur. Nevertheless, decades later they decided that they were assaulted? Even if Cosby’s behavior was reprehensible the FACT that the false accusers took the drugs WILLINGLY means they have no case.

    This insanity continues to happen because we men allow it to. Until that changes, nothing else will…

  7. The verdict is in: we’re all Bill Cosby now

    May 1, 2018 By Paul Elam AVFM

    OK, the verdict is in and Bill Cosby is guilty of three counts of sexual assault. And we now await sentencing, where the current take is that we will hear, in one form or another, how America’s Dad will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

    The #MeToo and #TimesUp crowd is jumping for joy, and undoubtedly a slew of Cosby’s alleged victims are lining up to take aim at pillaging his estate. I can just see them all, jumping up and down like first-graders at the ice cream truck, screaming Me too! Me too!

    Gynotrads, too, will be getting their jollies; basking in what they imagine is schadenfreude as Dr. Huxtable is tossed into a small cage to live what will undoubtedly be a much shorter version of what remains of his life. Such is what he deserves, right? He harmed all those women, and now he has to pay.

    At least that’s the point of view of those dumb enough to be blue pill; people whose thinking is guided by hash tags and other popular slogans of sexual politics.

    And mind you I have to say that I am not exactly bleeding sympathy for old Bill. Whether he committed actual sexual assault aside, it is clear that over decades of life he was a completely dedicated pussy hound; a gynocentrist of the first order, driven to arrange his life around women. That alone is begging for problems, never mind the abandonment of self and values that come with the territory. Guilty or innocent of the criminal charges, Cosby’s own petard blew up in his face.

    And of course, that ought to make any man with a bit of common sense take notice. There but for a streak of dumb luck go a lot of good men.

    To illustrate this further, I want to take a closer look at 1970’s drug culture, the very environment from which so many allegations sprang; allegations from a slew of women who are bound by two common denominators. Accusations against Bill Cosby and the expiration of their sexual use-by dates.

    Full disclosure here. As an overly active part of 1970s drug culture I have my own stories to tell, and I remember one clearly that paints a pretty damned good picture of the times.

    I was at a party. I think it was around 1977, but to be honest those were some very fuzzy years. There was this dude sitting there across from me on a sofa. He dropped a respectable sized rock of cocaine on a mirror and began ritualistically chopping at it with a razor blade. I remember thinking he was practiced, working the blade with blinding speed, turning the rock into powder and then turning the powder to a fat line that ran crossways on the mirror.

    As he shaped and reshaped the line of coke, a rather fetching young woman took a seat next to him on the sofa. She was ample breasted and wearing a low-cut sweater. She leaned toward him and smiled, her breasts more or less on full display, and put her hand on his knee.

    The guy just kept working the cocaine. Finally, the woman said, “That line really looks delicious.”

    He stopped for a moment and asked her name. She smiled and told him. He then asked her what she did for a living.

    “I’m a stewardess,” she said.

    “Oh,” he said, “I guess you make a pretty good living at that” He pulled a short straw out of his shirt pocket.

    The woman smiled again and said, “Yeah, I do ok.”

    “Well, then, tell me,” he said, “Why don’t you have any cocaine?”

    Then he bent forward and Hoovered the entire line up through the straw.

    Now, of course I was way too gynocentric at the moment to appreciate the awesome display of red pill awareness that I had just witnessed. Or maybe it wasn’t red pill awareness. Maybe it was just a guy used to shooing women off to hang on to his stash. Either way, it would take me many more years and a few rounds of getting burned to begin waking up on that level.

    And the scenario did paint a similar picture of my life at the time, too. I used a lot of drugs. I wasn’t what you call a big-time dealer, though I often did buy drugs in some quantity and sold enough to friends to help defray the cost.

    And one thing was certain. Whenever I was flush with drugs, I also had women around me. So did a lot of men. Money and fame both have the same effect. The more you have, the more women flock to you. That was true in the 1970s and it is true today. Resources attracts women like moths to a flame. You can #MeToo and #TimesUp all day every day but it won’t change the fact that access to resources and power through men is the primary attractor for women. How much action would ugly ass Mick Jagger have seen in his life if he was a cab driver?

    And of course, that makes me think about Bill Cosby in the 1970s. Rich, famous, powerful and undoubtedly with access to plenty of drugs. I was a 20-year-old nobody in 1977, and as long as I had drugs I had all the tail I could handle.

    So, I am sitting here wondering just why Cosby was reduced to doping women, slipping them drugs so they’d lose control and he could access them sexually.

    Oh, but wait. That isn’t what happened. At least not for the three counts of sexual assault for which he was convicted. In reading through accuser Andrea Constand’s account, she didn’t even allege that he slipped her drugs without her knowledge. She alleged that Cosby gave her three pills and some wine, telling her they were just pills that would relax her. This was, according to her, after Cosby had made at least two attempts at being sexual with her, which she rebuffed.

    So, let’s see if we can paint this picture accurately. A grown woman went alone at night to Bill Cosby’s residence after he had twice attempted to have sex with her, took the drugs that he offered without knowing what they were or even asking, had sex, and then sold that story as a rape.

    And of course the jury believed her. After all, women don’t lie about these things. And they take drugs from men who are pursuing them sexually without knowing what they are all the time, right? It doesn’t cross their minds that the rich, powerful man handing them drugs late at night; men who’ve already established sexual interest, might still have sex in mind.

    Poor darling. I am sure she thought Cosby invited her up for a bible study and some Jell-O.

    Another pitiable dear I read about found herself drugged and having sex with Cosby several times over a period of years. But I shouldn’t judge. I am sure the woman bore no responsibility for being raped in the same way by the same man over a period of years. After all, its not like she could just quit being around him.

    That story and a lot of others came from an article at thecut.com, where 35 of Cosby’s accusers tell their own stories. None of the stories are particularly remarkable, mind you. Each one pretty much told some variation of all the others. Some women claimed to have apparently been slipped drugs, but that was not what Cosby was convicted for.

    They all went to Bill Cosby’s place alone, partied on with him, had sex, uh, excuse me, were raped and then spent the next few decades summoning the courage to talk about it. The only other thing remarkable about the cut.com article is that there are pictures of all 35 women. All of them, every last one, is dressed, quite intentionally, in white.

    Of course, the preferred color of pure, unblemished brides at the altar…and coke whores.

    No wonder they say we live in a rape culture. At least half the sex between all westerners in the 1970’s was rape, apparently, thanks to retroactive definitions and hashtag movements.

    This is all part and parcel to what feminists want in the world. It’s been speculated quit a bit that the #MeToo movement probably had an influence on the Cosby trial. And I think it obviously did. Consensual partying and sex, sends a man to prison decades later, because rape, my friends, is whatever women want it to be.

    And it’s why they are pushing so hard now for an end to the statute of limitations on sexual assaults. Feminists want to go after any man, and the more powerful the better, at any time, for any reason, and completely crucify him. Not just in the court of public opinion, but in courts of law. Gents, we’re all Bill Cosby now.

    Chalk this up as a score for the sexual robotics industry. At least until they criminalize that, too.

  8. It just occurred to me, that another reason for the problem with Bill Cosby’s trial is that there’s a crucial difference between America and my own country in the way it handles court cases in public.

    For example, when the Hillsborough Disaster case was reopened in 2016 in light of new evidence, the authorities told people NOT to say anything about it on facebook or twitter in case it might affect the result. Public opinion is considered to be so influential in a trial’s result, that it can cause a case to be thrown out in contempt of court.

    On the other hand, Bill Cosby was dragged to his trial by public opinion, starting off with Hannibal Buress publicly castigating him in his stand up, followed by the video going viral, and Cosby was buried in an avalanche of accusations, some of which were recent enough for him to stand trial. All this time, not only was there absolutely no restriction of social media, it actively had a hand in dragging him in, so it does go to show that the American justice system responds very differently to social media than some of its European counterparts.

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