Updated: Mar 5, 2019
- By Micah Clark, Cartoonist -
Bill Cosby, famed comedian and TV actor, was convicted of the drugging and aggravated assault of Andrea Constand on Tuesday, Sept. 25. The actor was sentenced to three to ten years in prison with no bail. Only after three years will Cosby be available for possible parole. His defense team has said they plan to appeal the conviction, which includes Cosby being placed on a sex offender registry and the ordered payment of $25,000 in court fees and the cost of the prosecution. This case has lead to an uproar of protest and approval across the nation, including Cosby spokesperson Andrew Wyatt comparing Cosby’s conviction to the persecution of Christ and the historical lynching of black men for alleged rapes in America’s past.
The trial centered around only one of Cosby’s victims, Andrea Constand, whose rape was the only of dozens to have occurred within the statute of limitations. Cosby was convicted of three counts of aggravated indecent assault in April of this year and had since been awaiting sentencing on house arrest and bail. Legal speculators and journalists wondered just how long, if any, a jail sentence he would face. In the end Cosby was sentenced to a minimum of three years with possible parole at the end of his sentence minimum. Even if he were to be granted parole, Cosby would be permanently placed on the sexual offender list, be required to attend monthly counseling meetings, and would have to notify the members of his community of his offender status. This all is a small reward for the dozens of women who came forward against the beloved actor.
Cosby has also been ordered to pay a fine of $25,000 and the cost of the prosecution. This being a small price for a man with assets listing into the tens of millions in property alone as discovered by Mic. reporter Kaitlin Menza. Additionally, Cosby is being sued by legal firm Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis for $282,000 in unpaid legal fees from his trial in April 2018. The complaint came on Sept. 21 demanding that Cosby pay the cost of its services including interest and fees. Jonathan Berr of CBS News reported that Cosby’s current attorney Peter Goldberger declined to comment on the charges.
On how Cosby felt about his conviction, spokesperson Andrew Wyatt said Cosby was not concerned as he believes “these are lies.” Wyatt also called the conviction “the most racist and sexist trial in the history of the United States,” according to Eric Levenson and Aaron Cooper of CNN. Wyatt also compared the trial to the current allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, calling both men victims of a “sex war.”
Though the case is the process of justice within the United States, there are some concerns on who is and who isn’t being convicted in the court of law. Many commentators have raised concerns about the nature of a racist justice system where Cosby is being vilified by the media and the court. Despite the valid concerns for racial bias, the case brought against Cosby was reinforced by expert witnesses and testimonies that proved a repeated pattern of rape.
Justice reformers are calling for equitable convictions, citing cases of white men who rarely face trial or conviction for their sexual assault accusations while many men of color experience expedited convictions in the United States criminal justice system. Wyatt was quoted by CNN to have said, "They persecuted Jesus and look what happened. [I'm] not saying Mr. Cosby's Jesus, but we know what this country has done to black men for centuries.” This case has brought up conflicting stances between justice, civil rights, and who receives convictions in America. The question seems to be why is it that white men are repeatedly accused of rape and other sexual violence crimes but do not see the same degree, if any, of prosecution as black offenders do?
Surviving this period when so much of the news is occupied by cases of sexual violence can be difficult for survivors of sexual violence, but there are resources and community services accessible to all. Meredith College offers resources such as free counseling on the second floor of the health center for all students, including crisis drop-in hours from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.., Mon through Fri. Additionally, anyone can reach out for support by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline through RAINN at 1-800-656-4673. Though having this news accessible is important, it is also important that students and other survivors take care of their health. Communications Vice President of RAINN, quoted from CNN, released a statement of hope and affirmation to all survivors across the nation. “Let’s hope that the legacy of this case is that victims feel empowered to come forward knowing that it can truly make a difference in bringing perpetrators to justice.”