“A slap in the face for all the victims”: Outcry over Bill Cosby’s release from prison
This is why rape victims think twice before coming forward, writes Amanda Cassidy
He was once known as “America’s Dad” for his portrayal of the zany pop in the hit TV series The Cosby Show. But three years after his sentencing, Bill Cosby was released from prison on thursday, due to a violation of his rights over the course of his prosecution.
In other words, he is out on a technicality.
Cosby was accused of crimes that included a pattern of drugging and then raping or sexually assaulting them while unconscious. He was sentenced in 2018 to three to ten years in a state prison for drugging and sexually assalting Andrea Costand at his home.
Cosby has always maintained that his sexual interactions were consensual. Lise-Lotte Lublin, who accused Cosby of sexually assaulting her in 1989 spoke out against the decision. “A technicality doesn’t make you innocent. It means something went wrong in the system”
The system she speaks of was put to the test at a time of the cultural shift of the #MeToo movement. In fact, over a dozen women had come forward accusing the TV star, whose reputation remained unchanged, for decades.
60 women in total have come forward accusing Cosby of drugging and attacking them. But it as only his attack of Constand that he was formally charged and tried for.
My hope is that this decision will not dampen the reporting of sexual assaults by victims.
Even so, his conviction was a vindication for all of his victims. Now, his release has been described by some of the attorney’s of the victims as “a slap in the face for the victims”
Unbalance of power
The Montgomery County district attorney who prosecuted Cosby, Kevin Steele also spoke out about his fears that Cosby’s release can have on other similar cases.
“My hope is that this decision will not dampen the reporting of sexual assaults by victims. Prosecutors in my office will continue to follow the evidence wherever and to whomever, it leads. We still believe that no one is above the law — including those who are rich, famous and powerful.”
But the funny thing is that, that was the problem in the first place. Those seen as “untouchable” like the Harvey Weinsteins of the world were allowed to continue to abuse women despite them coming forward. The balance of power has always been weighed heavily on the side of those in the spotlight.
In addition to this unbalance, an alarming number of sexual assaults are never reported (up to 70% in some cases) because the victims feel ashamed or fear they won’t be believed. Sadly, their hunches are correct.
This is a much higher rate of non-reporting than for other violent crimes. And on top of all of that, should the cases go to court, only a tiny amount are ever prosecuted.
That’s why this technicality is such a blow for survivors.
The courage of the victims is about more than holding hands outside the courtroom. And yet it seems this is all they have. The public face of accusers is a sad reminder of a system that doesn’t really behave as if sexual assault is as serious an issue as they claim.
Sexual violence can have psychological, emotional, and physical effects on a survivor. These include PTSD, flashbacks, self-harm, substance abuse, panic attacks, disassociation, sleep disorders, eating disorders, suicide…
Until the system feels solid enough for those people at the receiving end of such horrific abuse to come forward, they won’t say Me Too. Until the system stops failing these women, such assaults will never be properly punished.