Bill Cosby faces jail time

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It was in 2014 when sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby first went viral. Nearly four years later, he has finally been convicted of aggravated assault.

Cosby’s first trial was in June 2017 — it ended in a mistrial. 

He was retried by a jury on April 26, 2018 and was ultimately found guilty of three counts of aggravated assault against Andrea Constand, who came forward in 2004 as a victim. 

On Sept. 25, 2018, Bill Cosby was sentenced to serve three to ten years in prison. The earliest accusation was reported to have been in 1965, when he was accused of drugging and assaulting a woman. The next accusations made were in 1980 and from then on, he has been periodically accused and investigated until around 2008. 

In 2014, stand-up comedian Hannibal Buress mentioned the allegations in one of his routines, to which both the audience and media were taken aback. 

Publications and media sources began picking up on the accusations and started to question how Cosby had managed to keep his image intact despite decades of public sexual abuse allegations. 

After the allegations became public, more women stepped forward — over 60 women have claimed to have been abused by Cosby. The accusations range from drug facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery and child sexual abuse. 

Despite being accused and convicted of sexual misconduct for decades, Cosby has managed to receive an outpouring of sympathy from people who believe he is innocent, that his contributions to popular culture amend his wrongs or that his conviction is a conspiracy against him. 

Cosby had many television roles throughout his career, most notably playing  Dr. Huxtable on The Cosby Show, and much of the backlash against his accusers comes from people who have a hard time separating his pop culture persona from his real life personality. 

Most of his supporters paint Cosby as the victim. Some outlets have twisted the story saying that Bill Cosby is a casualty of a system that is biased against black men during conviction. 

Despite Bill Cosby being accused over 60 times, he was only charged successfully once. This is a testament to the way in which the justice system involuntarily compromises the safety of the victims.

Truthfully, men of colour are often targets of harsher sentences and policing. This applies to many cases. Just not this particular one — Bill Cosby is not a martyr or a political hero. He’s a serial rapist who was tried and sentenced accordingly. 

To diminish Cosby’s wrongs is to also diminish the suffering and harm he has caused to countless women by his wrongdoings. 

During his trial this month, Cosby’s publicist Andrew Wyatt claimed that this was all a result of a conspiracy formulated by the judge, prosecutors and victims. 

He claims Cosby is the victim of a “sex war” which Wyatt characterizes as women accusing men of sexual predation in order to receive money.

This notion is extremely detrimental. Rape is statistically the most underreported crime with about 65 per cent of sexual assaults not ever being reported to the police and only about 16 per cent  of those accused of sexual assault ever seeing prison time. 

When rapists and assaulters receive more support than their victims, it becomes harder for victims to come out and bravely report what happened to them. 

By normalizing or excusing sexual misconduct, victims of assault are endowed with guilt, shame and the stigma of sexual victimization. This enforces the perception that sexual violence does not warrant reporting.

Before anyone mentions false reporting, I think it’s worth noting that within the last decade, only somewhere between two to seven per cent of cases are found to be falsely reported.

Despite Bill Cosby being accused over 60 times, he was only charged successfully once. This is a testament to the way in which the justice system involuntarily compromises the safety of the victims.

With all this being said, it is clear that the justice system does not always work in favour of the victims. 

So, why would these victims “lie” or “conspire” against their assaulters? It takes an insane amount of courage to report a sex crime and it’s time we stop making accusations up to be mere “conspiracies” and start considering sexual violence as completely unacceptable.

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