A Pennsylvania judge has ordered Bill Cosby to proceed to trial on the sexual assault charges by Andrea Constand . Like some 50 other women, Constand maintains that she was drugged against her will by Cosby, and unable to protest when he had sex with her.
The civil case by Constand was settled years ago. Cosby subsequently sued Constand for return of the settlement moneys she received, alleging that she violated a Confidentiality Agreement.
The statute of limitations has run on the numerous other claims against the 78 y.o. comedian, who has been free on $1 million bail since his arrest in December.
What Cosby Lost
Without an adjudication, it is impossible to say with certainty whether the claims being made against Bill Cosby are true. Under the American system of justice, of course, defendants are innocent till proven guilty.
That so many women have come forward (albeit belatedly) tends to suggest that at least some of the claims are likely to be true.
Either way, Cosby’s reputation is in tatters. He has though led a long and illustrious life, while the women making claims against him have wrestled with their demons for decades.
What Fans Lost
Bill Cosby’s reputation will be forever clouded by these accusations. The many fans who looked up to Cosby have lost a role model. That is not insignificant.
“The Cosby Show” ran for nearly 10 years. Cosby as Dr. Cliff Huxtable presented Americans with the image of an intelligent, urbane, and successful black man. That was in sharp contrast with earlier media images of African American men as ignorant shiftless clowns and violent thugs.
Why Victims Waited
It is difficult for the average person to understand why seemingly intelligent, articulate, and capable women would not have pursued their claims of rape in a timely manner. Some did make an attempt to report the crime, but were discouraged or ignored outright.
Almost all the women involved have pointed to Bill Cosby’s celebrity status and sterling reputation as insurmountable hurdles. There is a good deal of credence to this. Cosby was a shining star.
Another factor, also, comes into play. Even in cases where the predator is not a celebrity, the power differential favors him. It is humiliating being victimized. Rape victims often needlessly blame themselves, despite the fact that their rapist was larger, stronger, and/or armed.
For that reason, it can be enormously difficult for victims to face their rapist, even in a courtroom setting. The trauma of the crime is simply too painful. For some victims the courtroom confrontation may be cathartic. But no one should second guess the victim who chooses to avoid such a confrontation.
With the passage of time, predators frequently downplay the severity of their crimes. They shift blame to their victims, conveniently forgetting key facts so as to better assuage conscience.
But time does not heal all wounds. Victims live with the knowledge of their rape, especially if the rapist has gone unpunished. Apart from physical injuries which may or may not heal, the trauma can leave victims with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In effect, they continue to experience the impact of their rape into the present day.
Each of the women making claims against Bill Cosby will react differently to the upcoming Constand trial. Many are likely to view it as vindication, if not their own day in court. That may mean as much as monetary damages.
 The Bemidji Pioneer, “Pennsylvania Judge Orders Cosby to Trial on Sexual Assault Charge” via Reuters Media, 5/24/16, http://www.bemidjipioneer.com/news/4039962-pennsylvania-judge-orders-cosby-trial-sexual-assault-charge.
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