Bill Cosby: When Icons Fall And Rape Has Been Marginalized The Only Recourse Is A Mistrial [Opinion]

Bill Cosby was for most of his 79 years a beloved television icon. Cosby, perhaps more than any other celebrity can be credited with easing racial tensions in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as well as any other sort of tension for that matter. Bill had a face and a demeanor that inspired trust and affection.

Bill Cosby projected a secure and comforting presence. Bill proved to a divided America that people were all the same under the skin. It was the love of Bill Cosby to a great extent that all but destroyed racism and paved the way for other black performers, as the iconic actor represented something greater than just himself.

No one, however, topped Bill Cosby’s gentle easy going persona, for making an audience feel safe and comfortable.

Bill Cosby’s personal life seemed to be as squeaky clean as his TV persona. Married to Camille Cosby since 1964, there were no divorces or apparent marital problems. The couple and their five children seemed stable and happy. There were no indications of any problems.

Bill Cosby’s character seemed impeccable. Bill was probably one of the most trusted Hollywood icons in the world since the 1960’s when he first won the hearts of Americans. Then the most unthinkable reports started coming into the public light, but only after the aging icon was old enough to make it seem even more unimaginable.

Bill Cosby was being accused of drugging and raping dozens of women. Could it be possible that the whole time that Bill Cosby was personifying the decency and goodness of black men, the beloved actor and comedian was a serial rapist? The concept was heartbreaking and simply unthinkable.

Bill Cosby who had shared his Jell-o pudding with small children, and had been a clean, safe and largely uncontroversial comedian, was now accused of something completely reprehensible. Absolutely no one wanted to believe it.

Yet, at least 60 women have come forward, all alleging they had been raped or molested by Bill Cosby, according to Vanity Fair. The women were allegedly sexually assaulted while they were under the influence of powerful date rape drugs that in some cases they said rendered them unable to move.

Bill Cosby was in most ways fortunate that all the alleged rape occurred so long ago that the statute of limitations had expired, except for one. Andrea Constand alone was able to prosecute the iconic actor. Constand is quoted in Vanity Fair describing what allegedly happened when she says she woke up to find Bill allegedly touching her inappropriately.

“In my head I was trying to get my hands to move or my legs to move, but I was frozen. And those messages didn’t get there.”

Bill Cosby accuser Andrea Constand

Bill Cosby’s own statements were damning as well. Bill’s attorneys kept him off the stand because, at 79, the aging comedian doesn’t really know what is going to help or hurt him on the stand. Even in 2005, Cosby really didn’t seem to be speaking in his own best interest.

Bill Cosby, in a 2005 deposition unsealed last year, admitted to having seven prescriptions for Quaaludes which he said he gave to women before having sex according to The Rolling Stone.

The testimony and evidence against Bill Cosby were reportedly very strong. Still, the jury failed to reach a unanimous consensus, and a mistrial was called. There will be another trial probably months from now.

Today, Bill Cosby hardly looks like a threat, in fact, he never did. Cosby won the public trust early in his career. Even in the face of strong evidence, and the knowledge that 60 women came forward with similar stories, some are left feeling more confused than vindictive.

Could Bill Cosby be innocent? Nearly all Americans struggle to come up with some reasonable explanation other than his guilt. Could it be some sort of conspiracy? Were these women being paid to come forward with bogus stories? If so, what about Bill Cosby’s own statements that seem to support the testimony against him?

Still, at a time when rape and sexual assault are being marginalized under the law, and rape kits remain in storage for years, allowing a high profile case like Bill Cosby’s to go unpunished seems unwise. Already women feel it is useless to report rape. Only 310 out of 1000 rapes are reported to police. 57 of those perpetrators will be arrested, and 11 of those cases are referred to a prosecutor. That is 1.1 percent of all rapes that even make it to court.

Art Linkletter, Bill Cosby and Mr. Rogers at 2003 Tournament Of Roses Parade

If Bill Cosby is guilty and does go free, he will join over 99 percent of all rapists according to Rainn. Of 1000 rapes, 994 perpetrators walk free, while only six go to jail.

Bill Cosby’s high profile case will send a message to the world. It is already sending messages to the public, making them question so many moral issues. Does the law serve everyone equally? The answer to that is probably no, but according to the odds, Bill Cosby going to trial was unusual, even for an average perpetrator. Even with the accusation of 60 rapes, he’d statistically have only a 6.6 percent chance of going to trial.

Bill Cosby’s celebrity status may have worked against him in going to trial, but it probably helped him with the jury, leading to tenacious holdouts. Celebrity icons often inspire great loyalty, but in some cases, they also inspire jealous haters. It is hard to find impartial jurors for celebrity cases.

Bill Cosby at age 79, is hardly representative of typical rapists. Cosby is not a typical serial rapist out to grab a woman off the street, or a young college frat boy, taking advantage of 18-year-old classmates. Despite testimony, Bill is innocent until proven guilty, and it is always possible he really is innocent.

Rape is epidemic in American culture. One in six American women has been victimized by rape at some point in their lives, with the rate being higher among college women.

Bill Cosby changed the face of racial issues in the 1960s, but now he’s come down on the wrong side of another social issue that is quietly causing decay in society. Rape is a horrible violent crime that was once treated in the same way as murder and kidnapping.

Rape used to be punishable by the death penalty, but now perpetrators are rarely even prosecuted and very rarely convicted. Convicted rape carries an average sentence of just 8-9 years on average, but under certain circumstances, life in prison is an option, according to Sex Offender Attorney.

Will Bill Cosby be prosecuted to the full extent of the law? Will the outcome of this verdict impact society? Perhaps just the accusations are already changing people’s mind on a variety of issues.

Icons like Bill Cosby are the archetypes of our society. They represent something in people’s minds that is more than themselves. What happens in the heart and mind of the average American, when they are forced to look at these emotionally charged issues with a celebrity icon like Bill Cosby involved?

Suddenly an issue that is out of control, and being ignored within our society is forced to the forefront because Bill Cosby, a celebrity, has been accused. This trial brings forth a lot of inconvenient truths.

First, rape is common and going unpunished at an unprecedented rate. Rape is a violation of human rights, and a serious crime that should be prosecuted, but prosecutors are declining the job.

Second, Bill Cosby’s iconic status is forever tied to the quelling of racial issues in American. Will race relations be impacted by these accusations? Will they be impacted more if Cosby is convicted?

Third, is the hurt and confusion of generations of people who grew up with Bill Cosby. Bill Cosby was beloved and trusted. If that trust is believed to have been betrayed, 60 times no less, where does that leave the public’s ability to trust others?


Bill Cosby Accuser Andrea Constand Speaks Out On Social Media Following Mistrial

Bill Cosby Trial Alternate Juror Speaks Out, Says He ‘Probably’ Would Have Voted To Convict

Bill Cosby Case: Comedian’s Wife Camille Speaks Out

Bill Cosby is accused of rape, a reprehensible crime that deserves punishment if he is guilty, but what will be the cost to the American psyche?

[Featured Image by Mark Makela/Getty Images]