Was Bill Cosby On Trial Due To Race?

In high school, you’re taught to use credible sources when writing a research paper. A primary source involves firsthand knowledge about a person, event or object while a secondary source is information that was created by someone who did not experience or participate first hand in an event. Ironically, a newspaper article can be both a primary and secondary source. If it is a factual account of events, recording the events as they happened, it is a primary source. If the article is interpreted or has opinion interjected, it is considered a secondary source. Distinguishing between the two was relatively easy until the age of the Internet and the advent of media bias, when the media systematically emphasize one particular point of view in a way that contravenes the standards of professional journalism.

I can admit that race was one of my underlying issues as a black woman and mother to a black boy. I possess an African-American Studies degree from Howard University and radiate black pride. I prefer Malcolm over Martin and Booker T. over DuBois. I believe desegregation did us a disservice. I believe our Ferguson activists who were “found dead” is racially motivated. Cops killing our young men and women is racially motivated and the disproportionate number of African-Americans in jail and their length of sentencing is definitely racially motivated. And I understand racism in America not only because I studied it; but because I experienced it.

But, my biases cross both sides of the aisle, I’m also a survivor of sexual assault. Because of this, I decided to witness the Cosby trial firsthand to see if racism played any part in it. My son’s life and the issue of sexual assault are too important to leave in the hands of strangers tainted with their own personal biases.

Purchasing NBC

Cosby sought to purchase NBC in 1992 and in a 1994 interview he was asked if he would try again. He said, quote, “No, it’s over. Couldn’t get it.” General Motors, who owned NBC at the time, said no to him before allegations of sexual assault ever surfaced. In 2015, Cosby was working with the network to air another sitcom when NBC decided to sever all ties. Comedian Hannibal Burris had joked in 2014 that Bill Cosby was a rapist and the floodgates of accusations opened.

Let’s make sure you read that right. NBC severed all ties in 2015. Andrea Constand went to the police with allegations in 2005 about a 2004 incident. So even after she gave her statement, NBC was still willing to work with him.

The Charges

Bill Cosby was charged with three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault. Count 1 alleged that Cosby didn’t have consent when he penetrated Constand’s genitals with his fingers. Count 2 alleged she was unconscious or semi-unconscious at the time and could not give consent. Count 3 alleged all this happened after he gave her an intoxicant that substantially impaired her and stopped her from resisting.

Let’s be real. Some of y’all have done this. You ply a woman with drinks and wait for her fall asleep or pass out before performing some sort of sexual act. While at the trial, I was told stories by men who were sexually assaulted by women and became fathers as a result. Whether is a man or woman, prior relationship or not, the victim can press charges.

The Judge

Judge Steven T. O’Neill is nicknamed ‘the Whistler’ and is considered a ‘regular guy.’ He’s respected and well-liked by employees of the court and residents of Norristown. I happened to speak to a local resident, a black woman, while the jury was deliberating. She sat next to me and told me about her upcoming case. Some family property was sold and she wasn’t given her fair share. She didn’t like the judge who would be presiding and was looking for a way to get Judge O’Neill to preside. She said he was reputed for being kind and fair, not racist at all.

Prosecution

The prosecution called alleged victim Kelly Johnson to the stand to give her testimony about an incident with Bill Cosby. Her alleged assault occurred in 1996 and she was the only alleged victim allowed to testify. If the judge was unfair or a racist, he would have allowed other accusers to testify; more than 60 have spoken up. But O’Neill said that the incidents were too far in the past so he didn’t allow it. I spoke to an attorney who explained that even four women testifying would have sent a message to the jury that Cosby exhibited a pattern of sexual assault.

Many people believe that Kelly Johnson and Andrea Constand were conspiring but the timeline doesn’t support such a claim. Kelly gave her testimony in 1996 to a workmen compensation claim and Andrea gave her report to the police department in 2005. They both live on opposite sides of the US and as the district attorney pointed this out, Cosby was vigorously shaking his head in the affirmative! So Cosby himself agreed that these women never knew each other and were not conspiring.

Testimony

In Cosby’s deposition, he said he believed Andrea and her mom are honest people and that they are not out to extort him or receive “hush money.”

Joseph Miller, a white worker’s compensation lawyer, testified that Kelly Johnson filed a claim against Cosby’s agency, William Morris. In her deposition to him and another white man, she described the abusive treatment she suffered from Cosby’s agent, the late Tom Illius. She was asked to return the next day to finish her statement and when she began to discuss what happened with Bill Cosby, Miller decided not to transcribe her testimony. He even admitted that her testimony about Cosby hastened them to settle her claim.

Kelly reported the assault to the police and the white officer advised her to not press charges and “go up against Bill Cosby.”

When Andrea Constand filed a report with the Montgomery County police, the police chief had a closed door meeting so only a handful of officers were aware of the accusation.

Detective Schaffer of the Montgomery County Police Department was chosen to investigate the case. When on the witness stand, he said he conducted a background check on Andrea but it was “not necessarily for Andrea Constand. It was for Cosby to make sure she was legit.” Later in his testimony, he said, “…to protect Mr. Cosby’s interests.”

After hearing testimony from Constand and Cosby, a judge wouldn’t or couldn’t sign a search warrant but Cosby did consent to a search.

A sexual assault expert took the stand to explain the reasons why victims don’t speak up. She noted not only because of the criticism and harassment faced by the perpetrator’s supporters, but they don’t speak up because of shame, guilt, and fear. If you really care to understand why sexual assault victims don’t speak up, read this or peruse the comments found in the Twitter hashtag #whysurvivorsdontreport.

Defense

The judge wouldn’t hear testimony from Marguerite Jackson, a woman who claimed to have been roommates with Andrea during an away game. I read the statement presented to the press and decided to call her myself. I immediately asked her how she felt about all this and she responded, “I don’t know how I feel. She (Andrea) plotted and planned.” When I asked her the timeline of this statement, she wasn’t sure if it was said before or during Andrea’s friendship with Cosby. Then I asked her if Andrea ever told you about her visits to his home and she was only told of a dinner party Andrea attended with others which led me to believe they aren’t really friends.

Now, let’s break this down. Marguerite said Andrea plotted to set Bill up. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Andrea and Bill both admitted to being introduced by a Temple employee. That employee was with Bill at the time of the introduction. Cosby admitted to upon seeing Andrea, he was romantically attracted to her and wanted to establish trust and a friendship first. Andrea never believed there was a romantic interest; she considered Cosby a friend and mentor. Also, if Marguerite was so infuriated by Andrea, why did SHE wait so long to give her statement? Unlike a sexual abuse survivor, there would have been no guilt, fear or shame on her part.

The judge would not permit Marguerite to testify because Andrea claimed to not know her even though Marguerite claims they had a friendship. The defense asked Andrea specifically if she knew Marguerite Jackson to which she replied no. That’s why Marguerite’s testimony was hearsay and inadmissible. BUT, if the defense had asked, “did you ever tell anyone that you would set up a rich, old man?” and Andrea responded no, then Marguerite’s testimony could have been introduced, proving Andrea to have lied. Since the defense didn’t ask, it was never allowed.

I also wondered why the defense didn’t take the time to prove the women knew each other. They pulled Andrea’s phone records from Temple University. They could have easily pulled Marguerite’s to show the jury there was a relationship. If they had, in fact, shared a room during an away game, they could have found the email or invoice proving they were roommates. But the defense did none of this.

Conclusion

From what I witnessed and learned from area residents, lawyers, etc. Cosby’s trial was fair and it had nothing to do with race although many have been making this unsubstantiated claim for years.Race did play a role but not in the way that you think:

Now, I will say race played a role but not in the way that you think:

While some African-Americans continue to defend their hero, what they fail to realize is that Cosby has been fully assimilated into the mainstream (white) America for generations. And yes, he supported HBCUs and black causes during those years. But he also blatantly disrespected every black single mother, mothers with multiple fathers and black boy shot for allegedly stealing from a convenience store in his NAACP Pound Cake Speech in 2004. He wants y’all to forget that speech as he runs back into the arms of the community he insulted.

But did you know it was because of his indignity toward those above and disdain for “names like Shaniqua, Shaligua, Mohammed” and “people with their hat on backward, pants down around the crack” that the Associated Press filed a motion to obtain documents related to a 2005 civil lawsuit against Cosby? The judge agreed to release the documents citing that Cosby’s Pound Cake Speech deemed him a public moralist and the public has a right to be made aware of his hypocrisy.

So who’s the racist now?

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