Bill Cosby will get away with it

2015-07-22 01:59

An unapologetic, cavalier, playboy and rapist with no remorse for his actions and even less accountability for the hurt and pain he has caused to an indefinite amount of women. These are only a few sentiments used to describe Bill Cosby or as I knew him growing up, Dr. Cliff Huxtable from the Cosby Show. During the course of the last few months, Bill Cosby has been accused of luring, drugging and raping women. His drug of choice was Quaaludes; a nervous system depressant and infamous party drug used frequently during the 70’s and 80’s. With the amalgamation of easy access to drugs, a flagrant reputation for being a doting father and friend; mixed with fame and money; created a recipe for an opportunistic narcissistic to take advantage of women and never be charged with a single a crime.

He was respected fatherly figure, a knowledgeable, lovable and hilarious television character that would be a frequent choice to be viewed during prime time television on a Saturday evening. In a moment, this has all changed. We now have access to excerpts of the disposition by Bill Cosby where he admitted to certain allegations of misconduct. This occurred during intense questioning, ten years ago at a Philadelphia hotel, where he was defending himself against a lawsuit filed by a woman who was accusing him of drugging and molesting her. In a dominantly patriarchal society, it was not surprising that when the allegations first surfaced of these allegations, that many persons defended his name and called several of the women “liars” and gold diggers looking for their 15 minutes of fame. Yet, reading through the deposition we are confronted with the heinous creature that is Bill Cosby.

When asked if he had asked the women for verbal permission he nonchalantly responded “no… I didn't say it verbally. The action is my hand on her midriff, which is skin. I'm not lifting any clothing up. This is, I don't remember fully what it is, but it's there and I can feel. I got her skin and it's just above the hand and it's just above where you can go under the pants.” He was then asked to explain what followed and he stated, “I don't hear her say anything. And I don't feel her say anything. And so I continue and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped.” What arose more confusion and disappointment in his testimony was him defiantly admitting that he obtained Quaaludes from his doctor, who was aware that he was not taking it for himself, and compared his use of the drug to the same person who would say to a woman “have a drink” at a party or bar.

So, despite alluding to drugging the women who were victims of these atrocities caused by him, it was to him not evident that she was unable to stop him and considered it to be consensual sexual encounter. I can’t begin to imagine what the women had to go through. The thought of being unable to stop him due to fear, inability to recollect and comprehend the situation fully and unable to accept that the man you trusted would commit a crime against you, makes me nauseous. Keeping the secret for years on end in hope that you would forget and not have to relive the memories forever sketched into your mind. All of these are some of the contributing factors as to why he was able to commit these crimes for years and go unscathed whilst women kept their skeletons tightly locked in their closet.

But now that the dirty secrets are making there way to the surface, pulling away at any moral fabric which once cloaked Bill Cosby, we sadly must avail ourselves with the result there will not be any criminal prosecution. According to the statue of limitation, in US law, certain states have time limits for which a person can file a case, for example in the state of Texas, there is a ten year limitation on reporting a rape incident. For cases where the statute of limitation does not provide a limit on the state, the civil and criminal case can be filed at court. However, for cases where the misconduct occurred in states with limits, or where it is difficult to determine the locality of the misconduct then it is impossible to file a case against the perpetrator. Unfortunately, the incidents that have been brought to light in recent years occurred before 2004, meaning that majority of the cases will not be able to used against Bill Cosby.

In a South African context, our rape statistics are insurmountable and are not a true reflection of the actual prevalence that is occurring throughout the nation. Women, both young and old, often do not report the incidents, due to fear of retaliation, lack of faith in the justice and police system, the fear and embarrassment of having to retell the ordeal with very little evidence to substantiate your claims; and the list goes on.   It becomes “easier” to suppress the nightmare instead of undertaking the laborious task of dragging it through the expensive and long-winded court process, which often leads to nowhere. We are engrossed in a culture where incidents of rape, sexual assault and violence against women go unpunished or with minimal consequences being upheld, as we saw sorely had to witness with Oscar Pistorius and Shrien Dewani trials. Attaching little to the value of women’s lives, the Constitutional empowered bodies and institutions which have been bestowed with the power to assist the people, often fail to provide adequate support, reassurance and uniformity to cases.

Nonetheless, the upheaval battle which rape /sexual assault victims must endure should not be deterrent to reporting cases of wrongdoing.   Although we do not have a limitation on when rape can be reported according to the Sexual Offences and Related Matters Amendment Act, there are certain time limitations on when you cannot report a sexual assault. The longer a person waits, the more difficult it is for the police, medical examiner and prosecutor to adequately fulfill there roles to hopefully bring justice to those who have been wronged.

It is sickening that Bill Cosby can walk around free at this very moment. Knowing what he knows he has done coupled with credible evidence to support the claims; he is still untouchable in the realm of the law. This is an [unlikely] opportunity for the US courts to use the influence of common law and precedents, to use Bill Cosby as an example to the rich and powerful men to follow, to know that their actions are deplorable in today’s society. “Injustice anywhere; is injustice everywhere”.

Reaffirming the ideal of eliminating the societal norms, which promote women, to be submissive to men and empowering women to speak out against gender based violence crimes. Sadly, we can only hope that justice is served.

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