Bill Cosby was not convicted of sexually assaulting Andrea Constand.
Nor was he acquitted.
And while his supporters may be claiming a victory, his legal travails are far from over.
Following the declaration of a mistrial on June 17, prosecutors in Montgomery County, Penn., vowed to retry the now-disgraced comedian and actor on charges that he drugged and assaulted Constand, a Temple University employee, in 2004 at his Philadelphia-area home.
In addition to that, Cosby is facing 10 civil lawsuits by women alleging sexual assault or defamation.
And yet, instead of a speck of humility, there was Cosby’s spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, in an interview with a Birmingham, Ala., TV station on Wednesday, acting as if Cosby not only had been exonerated but is perfectly positioned to impart valuable advice to other men who feel unfairly accused of sexual assault.
“Mr. Cosby wants to get back to work,” Wyatt said. “We are now planning town halls.”
“Really?” asked WBRC-TV host Janice Rogers. (I wish I could convey to you the alarmed tone of her voice when she interjected that, but you’ll have to watch for yourself.)
“This is bigger than Bill Cosby,” Wyatt said. “This issue can affect any young person, especially young athletes of today. They need to know what they are facing when they are hanging out and partying, when they are doing certain things they shouldn’t be doing. And it also affects, you know, married men.”
I know that Cosby likes to give advice; for years, he admonished black men to pull up their pants, stop using slang and be better fathers while he was (by his own admission) giving women pills for sexual purposes, an exploitation so egregious that his career and reputation are now in ruins.
It’s in keeping with Cosby’s legendary arrogance that he thinks he can hold town halls offering his experience as a cautionary tale to young men — especially athletes and married men — who are doing things they shouldn’t be doing when they are hanging out and partying.
After all, Cosby has been accused of sexually assaulting nearly 60 women over a period of 50 years, so clearly, he knows the material.
At Wyatt’s side during that preposterous TV interview was Ebonee Benson, a spokeswoman for Cosby’s wife, Camille. Benson suggested that because statutes of limitations for sexual assault are being extended that men are now subject to criminal charges for, well, almost nothing!
“A brush against the shoulder, you know, anything at this point can be considered sexual assault,” she said.
In a statement read by Benson, Camille Cosby ripped apart just about everyone involved in her husband’s prosecution. The prosecutor, she declared through Benson, was “heinously and exploitatively ambitious.” The judge was “collaborating” with the district attorney. Constand’s attorneys were “totally unethical.” And the media was “blatantly vicious.”
Well, did Camille Cosby suggest in any way that her husband had misbehaved? Did she address his admissions in a 2005 police report and 2006 civil deposition that he had given Quaaludes, a powerful sedative, to women with whom he wanted to have sex?
Some feminists were none too happy about Camille Cosby’s failure to even acknowledge her husband’s admitted misdeeds. But not everyone was willing to criticize.
“Her statement was very vitriolic and I have never heard anything like that,” said attorney Gloria Allred, who represents at least 33 Cosby accusers, including Kelly Johnson, the only alleged victim besides Constand who testified in the Pennsylvania trial. “But I am not interested in attacking Camille because I feel in many ways that she may be a victim as well of what her husband has done.”
I agree. Camille Cosby is probably living in her own private hell. Punishment enough.
I asked Allred what she thought about a Cosby juror’s statement, made to the Philadelphia Inquirer shortly after the mistrial, that he didn’t believe Constand was assaulted because Cosby said she had brought him some small gifts, and that they had consensual sex once after she arrived at his home in a midriff-baring top. (Constand denied that such an encounter ever took place.)
“Let’s face it,” the juror said. “She went up to his house with a bare midriff and incense and bath salts. What the heck?” He also told the newspaper she should have “dressed properly and left the incense in the store.”
“It’s very disturbing,” said Allred, who has represented hundreds of women in sexual assault and rape cases. “Wearing a certain kind of clothing is not an invitation to a rape or sexually assault a woman. She can wear whatever she wants. For us to be stuck in this conversation is so unfortunate. It’s also off subject. The issue was consent.”
On Tuesday, Allred will be in court in Santa Monica to set a trial date for one of her clients, Judy Huth, who has filed a civil case against Cosby in Los Angeles Superior Court. Huth alleges that when she was 15 years old in 1974, Cosby gave her beer, and sexually assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion.
When someone who has been accused by so many of so much finds a way to portray himself as the wronged party, something is terribly amiss.
Maybe prosecutors did not meet their burden of proof in Cosby’s first trial. And maybe they will fall short again.
Cosby, however, is a victim of nothing but his own hubris.