Morning of the wedding: 9 dos and don’ts for the bridal party
Morning of the wedding: 9 dos and don’ts for the bridal party

Geraldine Carton

What to eat this week: Goat’s cheese and pickled beetroot melt
What to eat this week: Goat’s cheese and pickled beetroot melt

Meg Walker

The most heartwarming moments from the Olympics so far
The most heartwarming moments from the Olympics so far

Sarah Finnan

11 Irish women with the coolest jobs outside Ireland
11 Irish women with the coolest jobs outside Ireland

Geraldine Carton

Fans seem to think Taylor Swift is in Donegal
Fans seem to think Taylor Swift is in Donegal

Sarah Finnan

Britney Spears’ lawyer files request for new conservator of her finances
Britney Spears’ lawyer files request for new conservator of her finances

Jennifer McShane

All you need to know about Elizabeth Holmes’ unbelievable Theranos fraud case
All you need to know about Elizabeth Holmes’ unbelievable Theranos fraud case

Jennifer McShane

Millie Mackintosh opens up about her c-section experience and recovery
Millie Mackintosh opens up about her c-section experience and recovery

Sarah Finnan

Andie MacDowell: Why is my grey hair an issue and George Clooney’s isn’t?
Andie MacDowell: Why is my grey hair an issue and George Clooney’s isn’t?

Sarah Finnan

Looks like weddings of 100 guests might go ahead this August, under one condition
Looks like weddings of 100 guests might go ahead this August, under one condition

Lauren Heskin

Image / Editorial

“A slap in the face for all the victims”: Outcry over Bill Cosby’s release from prison


by Amanda Cassidy
01st Jul 2021
blank

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.

Flawed system

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.

Wishy-washy

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.

Also Read

audiobooks
EDITORIAL
6 brilliant audiobooks worth listening to during lockdown

Six great audiobooks to listen to in lockdown. It took me ages to come around to the idea of audiobooks....

By Jennifer McShane

blank
EDITORIAL
Setting mental health boundaries: ‘I didn’t expect the level of anger it caused’

The entitled backlash when someone tries to set their own boundaries is concerning, writes Amanda Cassidy “One particular friend just...

By Amanda Cassidy

Nóra Quoirin
AGENDA, EDITORIAL
Inquest ruling changed to open verdict in Nóra Quoirin’s death

A Malaysian judge has overturned an inquest verdict of misadventure in the death of 15-year-old Nóra Quoirin, changing it to...

By Jennifer McShane

blank
EDITORIAL
‘We have not heeded the warnings sufficiently’: The health emergency we’ve ignored while focusing on the pandemic

The climate change debate has been going on for so long its become white noise. But this week, the effects...

By Amanda Cassidy

Full House, onscreen father Danny Tanner
EDITORIAL
We’re remembering our favourite onscreen dads for Father’s Day

With Father’s Day just around the corner (this Sunday 20h June, so yes, you do have time to buy yours...

By Grace McGettigan

blank
EDITORIAL
‘Quite interesting’: Princess Anne comments on The Crown

We’ve all heard that the royal family don’t exactly gather round to watch The Crown, but one member has shared...

By Jennifer McShane

DIY wall murals
EDITORIAL
People are getting creative with their walls in lockdown and we’re dying to give it a go

While staying at home and with plenty of time to spare, creative people are turning to their walls as a...

By Megan Burns