America loves Bill Cosby. He’s so warm, comforting and wise….. and he makes us laugh as well. He taught us good manners, how to be a loving spouse, a good parent and raise well-adjusted and respectable children. He was the wholesome, All-American spokesman for Jell-O and the squeaky clean, proper and harmless Dr. Cliff Huxtable from The Cosby Show. Everything about Dr. Huxtable was trustworthy, right down to the comfortable sweaters he wore. Bill Cosby was welcomed into virtually every American home because he was... well, safe and trustworthy.
That persona has come to a screeching halt. First, comedian Hannibal Buress' standup act video in Philadelphia went viral when he began sounding off about Cosby being a rapist. After that, Cosby's Twitter account attempted to do some damage control by asking the public to create a Cosby meme. It backfired more than anyone could have imagined. Tweets began taking over Twitter, with rape and drug accusations splashed across his image. Whisperings became louder and bolder, and the genius and wholesomeness of Cosby started to crumble. Women began to come forward one after another after another. There are currently seven named women who say they were raped or sexually assaulted by Cosby (note these are allegations only):
• Joan Tarshish was a 19-year-old actress when she was allegedly raped by Cosby. The year was 1969, and he was starting a new sitcom, The Bill Cosby Show. One night after taping the show, Cosby invited her to his bungalow. There, he gave her a drink and suddenly he was removing her clothes. Unable to stop him, she says the man she idolized raped her. She told no one until 2014 when she went public with her story.
• Tamara Green, now 66, is a retired California attorney. She recalls in 1970 being sick with the flu. Cosby, seeming to care, offered her pills. He removed her clothing, she says, and was groping and kissing her as she screamed for help. She did not come forward with her story because she was intimidated by him, although she now says Cosby is "twisted" and a "sexual predator". Who would have believe her then? He played mind games as well. The day after the rape he visited her brother, who had cystic fibrosis. When she arrived at the hospital, her brother, mother and hospital staff were elated because "the great Bill Cosby had been there; the children were happy, my brother was a hero." She went public in 2005.
• Janice Dickinson was the first to come forward after the recent Hannibal Buress video. The incident happened in 1982 when she and Cosby had dinner. He gave her a pill she believed was for menstrual cramps she took with her wine. The last thing she can remember was Cosby in a robe on top of her. With her allegations being seriously questioned, five more women quickly came forward, revealing their names and telling their stories.
• Barbara Bowman claimed Cosby assaulted her on a number of occasions when she was 17 years old. Once she claimed she blacked out after one glass of wine, and when she came to, she was wearing only her panties and a man's shirt, with Cosby towering over her. As a teen, Bowman wasn't sure if her imagination was running rampant or if this was just part of breaking into the entertainment industry. Ultimately, she confided in her agent, who did nothing. She told an attorney, but he denounced her for lying. She went to an attorney in 1989 to discuss taking legal action against Cosby, but said he "laughed me right out of the office." It was that feeling of hopelessness that kept her from going to the police, eventually giving up. "I've been silent too long," she adds. "No more code of silence."
• Andrea Constand went to police with rape allegations in 2004. The district attorney, however, refused to file charges. She ended up filing a civil suit, and Green came forward to help her, since Cosby was denying everything. All in all, thirteen women came forward at that time. She says dozens of women contacted her with similar stories who did not want to go public. Her suit was settled in November 2006, but terms have never been disclosed.
• Beth Ferrier was in her early 20s in the mid-1980s when Cosby began to mentor her. One night she says he gave her a laced cappuccino, after which she woke up in a parking lot in her car with her clothes disarrayed and no memory of the event. She says, "I wondered -- I still wonder -- what did he do with me? Why was my bra unhooked?"
• Carla Ferrigno, married to Incredible Hulk star, Lou Ferrigno, is the latest woman to step forward. She says Cosby is a true monster. In 1967, she double dated with Cosby and his wife, Camille, and they ended up at Cosby's home to play pool. At one point she and Cosby were alone, and he allegedly began kissing her roughly and groping her. She fought him off and ran away from the home. She suspects her date and Camille helped set up the encounter. She never told anyone because she feared she would not be believed. She discussed all of this with her husband, telling him she felt she had to come forward to tell her story and hopefully help stop Cosby from attacking anyone again.
Thirty years ago it was very difficult for women who had been raped to come out due to shame and a public attitude that ‘she deserved it’. Things have changed for the better, but it’s still not easy. Women are finding their voice, although there are still those who place blame on the victim rather than the perpetrator. On Tuesday CNN reporter Don Lemon interviewed Joan Tarshis. What should have been an informative conversation about how a victim responds and survives such an assault turned into victim blaming. Incredulously, Lemon quips, "You know, there are ways not to perform oral sex," then clarified his comment by mentioning "using of the teeth". In other words, bite the guy's dick if you don't want to perform oral sex. He almost smugly insinuated if a woman doesn't take defensive actions, she probably wants it. (As far as Tarshis, she showed incredible grace as she reminded Lemon she was stoned out of her mind because of the drug Cosby slipped in her drink, and the thought of biting Cosby's dick never entered her mind.) Then Lemon cracked flippantly, "I had to ask." Twitter didn't agree with those sentiments and they're biting back.
For Cosby, it appears to be too late for justice to be served. There will be no prosecution because the physical evidence is long gone and the statute of limitation in all cases has lapsed. The public is taking sides….with the victims. Since the resurfacing of these rape reports, Netflix has postponed a post-Thanksgiving Cosby special, and NBC has announced it will be scrapping Cosby's new comedy show. Cosby's attorney vehemently denies the allegations, and calls Dickinson "a liar." Cosby won't discuss it. In fact, he has been deafeningly silent.
It needs to be stressed that these are allegations. Cosby has not been convicted in a trial, but with these women coming forward with very similar stories, it makes one pause. As they say, where there's smoke, there's fire, and this is turning into a bonfire.
Did he do it? Could the kind and wise character we know so well from TV be this type of predator? Here’s the deal: We really don’t know Crosby at all because the actors we see on television are just that -- actors. Television and movies can be misleading, because we think we know the actor personally. For Bill Cosby, we loved I Spy, Fat Albert and The Bill Cosby Show, but we must remember we loved the CHARACTERS he portrayed. When he was acting before the camera, he was warm, loving and kind. We tend to blur the lines between these fictional individuals and the actors portraying them. On television Cosby was the ultimate standup guy. With the latest news, we are forced to acknowledge that TV has nothing to do with who Crosby really is.
Of Cosby, Green says, "If he wants to be a great man instead of a small man he needs to embrace his errors as well as his talent, because I do not dispute he's done great things; I just think he's a hypocrite and a liar."
Bill Cosby is an icon, and his wholesome brand made him not only incredibly wealthy, but a role model for young and old alike. He has repeatedly stressed to all that we should always do the right thing and be responsible. Being responsible means owning what you've done and accepting the consequences for your actions.
If guilty, Cosby could do himself a favor by coming clean and addressing these allegations. If they are true, then let the public know he's not the perfect father figure we love; that he's human and regrets parts of his past. Yes, he would probably face civil charges, but it would put him on the road to redemption in the public perception arena and perhaps within his battered psyche as well. As Charles Frazier said in Cold Mountain, “[No] matter what a waste one has made of one's life, it is ever possible to find some path to redemption, however partial.”
And if allegations are untrue? Then he still must speak out, not via an attorney but personally. Otherwise, If he continues to say nothing he will be presumed guilty as well as a coward and a liar -- forever.