It has been announced that Bill Cosby plans to conduct a series of seminars to teach people how to avoid accusations of sexual assault. Cosby became famous as a comedian, so perhaps this is his idea of a joke. If so, here’s a message to Cosby: not funny. And if he is serious about coaching young athletes and married men about their sexual behavior – as sadly appears to be the case – it is pretty clear he knows no shame.
Just days after a jury in Pennsylvania deadlocked on sexual-assault charges against Cosby stemming from a 2004 incident, representatives of the actor-comedian-author said he “wants to get back to work” and disclosed plans for town hall meetings educating people about sexual-assault laws. “This is bigger than Bill Cosby ... this issue can affect any young person,” Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said Wednesday on Alabama’s WBRC-Fox 6 News. “People need to be educated on a brush against the shoulder,” added his associate Ebonee Benson. “Anything at this point can be considered sexual assault.”
The two representatives – and no doubt Cosby himself – aim to portray Cosby, 79, as a victim of amorphous laws and reckless prosecution who has now been freed not only to get on with his life but also to lecture others. That distorted presentation overlooks some facts. The failure of a clearly anguished jury to reach a verdict in a complicated criminal case does not absolve him of wrongdoing, nor does it make the charges go away. Indeed, the prosecutor already announced plans to retry the case in which Andrea Constand alleges she was drugged and molested by Cosby. Other women – about 60 other women – have come forward with similar claims against Cosby.
But even setting those charges aside – which we don’t – there is ample damning evidence in his own words that Cosby is neither a victim nor equipped to advise others about their sexual behavior. In a deposition taken in 2005 and 2006 in the civil case brought by Constand, Cosby admitted to giving Quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with. He acknowledged giving pills to Constand. When questioned about whether he asked her consent to his sexual advances, he said: “I don’t hear her say anything. And I don’t feel her say anything. And so I continue and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped.”
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Is “loathsome” too strong a word? There are lessons to be learned from Cosby, but they aren’t ones he seems able to recognize.