Sporting a smile of contentment on his face, he slowly raised his hands in front of the cameras and made a victory sign. As the people around him cheered and celebrated, an 83-year-old Bill Cosby silently announced his triumph in a world where women’s voices go unheard. Once hailed as ‘America’s Dad’, comedian Bill Cosby is better recognized now as a convicted sexual predator. But, in a shocking verdict on June 30, 2021, Pennsylvania Supreme Court in USA overturned his earlier guilty conviction, thereby prompting his release from prison.
At present, Cosby – who has been accused of sexual assault and abuse by as many as 63 women – would no longer be registered as a sex offender. With one stroke of the gavel, the trauma relived by 63 women night and day for decades, was declared null and void.
The historic moment a legal loophole led to Bill Cosby being declared ‘innocent’, thousands of women around the world were being sexually violated, raped, molested, and abused. Their hope for justice dwindled further as another alleged sexual predator walked free. In the post #MeToo era, Bill Cosby’s release was tantamount to the worldwide women’s movement suffering a major setback.
I have never changed my stance nor my story. I have always maintained my innocence.
Thank you to all my fans, supporters and friends who stood by me through this ordeal. Special thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for upholding the rule of law. #BillCosby pic.twitter.com/bxELvJWDe5
— Bill Cosby (@BillCosby) June 30, 2021
All you need to know about the Bill Cosby verdict
Between 1965 and 2008, Bill Cosby was accused of sexually assaulting or abusing over sixty women. However, none of the cases had enough evidence required for a criminal prosecution, barring one. In 2004, Cosby was accused by Temple University employee Andrea Constand of drugging and sexually assaulting her at his home.
However, the then Pennsylvania District Attorney Bruce Castor, who happens to be Donald Trump’s attorney as well, cited the case as unfit for criminal prosecution due to lack of evidence and delay in the survivor’s accusation. Castor also made a ‘non-prosecution agreement’ that would shield Cosby from a criminal trial if he swore under oath to the allegations in Constand’s lawsuit. During his depositions, Cosby admitted to supplying drugs like Quaaludes to Constand and multiple other women and also admitted to having sexual encounters with Constand.
Constand settled the lawsuit with Cosby for $3.38 Million, but later in 2015, she filed a motion to negate the ‘confidentiality agreement’ of the suit. By that time, 12 more women had accused Cosby of sexual offences. Soon afterward, DA Bruce Castor’s successors reopened the case, leading it to trial.
The first trial in 2017 concluded in a deadlock as the jury failed to reach a verdict. A second trial was conducted in 2019, which eventually led to his conviction and sentencing to prison. Now, the 2019 verdict has been overturned, citing Castor’s ‘non-prosecution agreement’ and also the fact that Cosby failed to use his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. In the court document of the judgement, it was stated, “The moment that Cosby was charged criminally, he was harmed.” Furthermore, the present verdict prevents any future prosecution for Cosby on the sexual assault charges. That means, the only bleak chance of Cosby facing another criminal trial is if another survivor comes forward with fresh accusations which hold credible.
What are Cosby’s survivors saying?
“There were more than 63 of us who came forward in the end. I’m wondering what the purpose was of the 43 years of this ordeal and the trauma that I had and the trauma that my family endured as a result,” said Patricia Leary Steuer, who was allegedly abused by Cosby.
Andrea Constand, whose case actually led to his 2019 conviction, expressed her deep disappointment at the verdict and said that it “may discourage those who seek justice for sexual assault in the criminal justice system from reporting or participating in the prosecution of the assailant or may force a victim to choose between filing either a criminal or civil action.”
Another of his survivors, Janice Dickinson, opened up about how the verdict made her feel like she was kicked in the stomach.
And these are just three women, who made the mistake of speaking up in a man’s world. There are sixty more women who have dared to open up about their trauma but were dismissed by a legal system that is often dangerously lopsided. And who knows, how many more victims of Bill Cosby are still there, reliving their trauma every day and slowly losing faith in justice. Can anyone assure that there would not be any more victims?
Epstein killed himself in jail. Had he been alive, perhaps he would have been roaming free today, who knows! Roger Ailes died of old age; but did not have to face any time behind bars despite the substantial accusations against him. Tomorrow, Harvey Weinstein might walk out of jail as an ‘innocent’ man – a living, breathing taunt for the victims whose bodies were violated by a sexual predator.
In conclusion, as women, we admit that it is indeed a man’s world. And, it is no planet for women.