Recently we all watched as the Bill Cosby trial came to an end in a mistrial. It seems so hard to understand how this could happen when he admitted to giving drugs to the victim so that he could have sex with her. For those of us immersed in this work, that admission is a huge red flag for so many different reasons, but the one that stands out the most is that we all know that if someone is intoxicated or heavily under the influence or otherwise rendered incapacitated then they are unable to consent to sexual activity. I have a guest blogger today writing about this case…when I read her blog it rings true and I wanted to share it with you. Katie Wilson is a 23 year old California native who is pursuing a path in journalism by sharing her truth through her own blog. (Tammi Pitzen, CAC Executive Director)
By Katie Wilson: First published June 20, 2017 on the Odyssey Blog: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/bill-cosby-mistrial-means-society
Allegations of Cosby’s alleged sexual misconduct first came to light in November of 2014. Since then there have been more than 50 women who have come forward, and claimed to have been a victim of Cosby’s misconduct. According to these women Cosby would drug them, usually in their drinks, or in regular pill form offered as a pain reliever. The women then claim they woke up groggily some time later in bed either during or after the rape occurred. When news first broke there were thirteen women who were anonymously going to testify against Cosby, being called the “Jane Does.” As time went on, some of these women felt comfortable coming forward and identifying themselves to share more of their story, as to help other victims who were afraid, or ashamed to come forward. The women stated they wanted to help and wanted to come together in support, in a way that those of us who have never been through such a tragedy can not.
There were opinions from all sides as Cosby maintained his innocence. Quite a lot of people didn’t want to believe that the comedian who had always been portrayed as a family man/father figure was capable of committing such acts. Others trying to belittle the claims, or find ways to defend the seventy-nine year old’s actions. Claiming that the women wanted to have relations with him, and defending all of his choices, many believing the defenses that he began stating in an attempt to maintain his own innocence. Then there were the radical feminists calling for a hulk sized take-down of a man who had lived a life so vile.
On June 12 the trial against Cosby for the rape of Andrea Constand began. Despite numerous evidence that this is not a singular occurrence, and something that Cosby is all but admitted to; i.e. Jokes in a segment about spiking women’s drinks to get them to have sex with him; the jury was somehow not able to reach a verdict after more than fifty-two hours of deliberating. This causing Judge Steven O’Neil to declare the case a mistrial. While prosecutors have vowed to retry Cosby in the one hundred and twenty day period in which they have to do so, this mistrial is very important for our society today. We live in a world where only three hundred and ten out of a thousand assault cases are even reported. In those three hundred, only fifty seven will lead to an arrest according to records. Of those an even smaller portion will face trial with reportedly only six out of the three hundred actually facing any sort of criminal charge. With statistics like these victims who already feel embarrassment, shame, guilt, or regret have a hard time finding a reason to make themselves relive all of the trauma they have been through, countless times in order to maybe, possibly, find justice if they’re part of that one percent.
When a trial takes over a media firestorm and someone with mass popularity and nationwide love no longer is safe from justice; someone who is widely known and loved has to stand up and face his crimes, then women everywhere begin to see a light of hope. A hope for a nation that will not tell them that it is their fault they were assaulted. A nation that doesn’t tell a woman to cover up but a man to respect her no matter what. A world in where three months in prison and a slap on the wrist is never an okay punishment for rape. But suddenly then there’s a mistrial. Because despite the evidence our society doesn’t want to believe that there can be this kind of ugliness. That despite the hurt and the pain we would rather hide it away and cover it up.
This mistrial shows women that no matter how loud you scream and shout, no matter how hard you fight someone is always going to think you’re making it up. This mistrial shows that while we have made bold leaps in the last hundred years for equality we still have a very long way to go. Until women feel safe walking the street and standing in their truth, until we can get comfortable revealing the ugly hidden beneath our country, and bringing it to light we can not claim to be America the Beautiful.