Bill Cosby is being accused of multiple accounts of rape and has nothing to say to us about it. The man who has spent decades building up one of the nation’s most proper and morally sound celebrity reputations, is staying silent, leaving all of us to wonder how we could have missed this.
When I first read Bill Cosby’s name in the same sentence as “serial rapist,” I instantly doubted the article. I flashed back to being ten years old, waiting to hear what darling thing Rudy Huxtable would say next to her dad, Cliff. Doctor Huxtable just so happened to be the best dad in the world, right?
Falling asleep to Nick at Night’s reruns of The Cosby Show was not unusual when I was younger. Already so adored by my family from its original airing, just like the beloved Mr. Rogers, he was one of the staples of both my childhood and so many others. The values of family and being a respectable person travelled far past the ending of the show. For years, the following generations have latched on to the same love and upright feeling that emanated from Cosby.
Those dorky sweaters and that wide-eyed smirk portrayed a good man with a big heart, and Cosby sure as hell knew how to milk that. To hear now that allegations have been circulating for years makes my heart sink. Feelings of betrayal and disgust come up, but mostly regretted ignorance to this concern that has somehow coasted under the radar to most of us for so long.
As of Tuesday, when eighties’ supermodel Janet Dickinson joined in as yet another accuser, fifteen women have detailed stories of being sexually assaulted by America’s dad. Fifteen separate stories, all with the same theme of being given a drink and pills, coming to undressed, Cosby on top of them, confused, and in pain.
The only response from the comedian has come from his attorney, which stated that Cosby refused to dignify “decade-old, discredited claims.” Well Mr. Cosby, if you think this is just going to go away again, you are very wrong.
The seventy-seven year old just shook his head in silence when questioned about the allegations during an interview with National Public Radio and has not reached out to the public personally to make a statement. It has guilty written all over it.
To retrace our steps, Cosby’s first alleged assault took place all the way back in 1969. The most recent claim is said to have taken place in 2002, which is at least thirty years of dispersed, horrifying behavior.
In 2005, Andrea Constand filed a lawsuit claiming that Cosby assaulted her back in 2002 at his home in Pennsylvania. With this, eleven other women came forward as witnesses with similar accusations toward him. The comedian was able to settle with Constand out of court and none of the witnesses ever had to testify. It did, however, lead two of the women, Barbara Bowman and Beth Ferrier, to bring their stories to light.
With the accusations out there, Tamera Green, a California lawyer, decided to also speak up in 2005 about her claims that Cosby assaulted her back in the 1970s. And yet another accuser, Joan Tarshis, a music industry publicist and journalist, published her purported assault in explicit detail last Saturday in Hollywood Elsewhere.
Tuesday, Dickinson felt an obligation to go public with her story of assault as well, said to have taken place 1982 in Lake Tahoe. Maybe she felt a well-known face coming forward could help propel action against Cosby? Maybe she is lying, hoping for renewed attention from the media? The public has landed on both sides.
Twitter has served as a sample of the range of feelings surrounding the rape allegations. Understandably, many people refuse to accept that their sweet Cliff Huxtable could do any harm to anyone. Others have been quick to determine that his whole career is a lie and he is a terrible man who has had too much power.
And sadly, the situation has also prompted a plethora of “funny” memes and rape jokes, which inevitably downplay the seriousness of what actually is a horribly disturbing history of a celebrity able to get away with sexual assault because of his level of fame and power and the façade of who he really is.
It makes me sad to hear these women’s stories, like somehow it makes my childhood a lie. If the man who laughed with young children on Kids Say the Darndest Things was also the man who tricked and raped women, how am I supposed to believe anything? How could we all follow this man with admiring eyes, so unaware for so long – letting things like his standup routine about drugging his date go unnoticed after the first round of accusations?
Bill Cosby needs to say something, do something. There is no way the world can ever look at him the same way no matter what the results of this come to be.
It is unfortunate that these women did not say something sooner, and they were never able to get Cosby to court when they did. But at least it is out there, and people are actually taking these women seriously now. Why many like myself were blind to such accusations comes down to him being who he is and that persona never being questioned.
It would be nice to take these women’s allegations and throw them under the rug as heresy, but I just cannot do that. Maybe, just maybe if he came forward right away and did something about “false claims” I would still be weighing out the facts, but he did not do that. As much as I wish I could go home and watch The Cosby Show with nostalgia and happiness once more, that will not happen.
Bill Cosby is almost eighty years old, and at some point his depravity, if real, needs to be revealed. Now is that time, and now is when his walls are finally crumbling to the renewed confidence of women who for too long were silenced by fear and ignored by a lack of support against deceitful sweaters and smiles.
It was an impressive run, Mr. Cosby, but it looks like your ridicule of sagging pants and profanity have been dismembered by the claims of far worse crimes.