If you’re anything like me, the sexual misconduct of Bill Cosby has been a difficult subject to discuss. I grew up in a black household with few examples of a successful black family in the media I consumed. Gathering around the TV to watch reruns of “The Cosby Show” was a pastime my family regularly enjoyed. With my fond memories of Cosby’s work set aside, his personal character is, without a doubt, deeply disturbing. As a young woman, I cannot fathom supporting or feeling any empathy towards an older man convicted of taking advantage of and abusing so many women in one lifetime.
My opinion of Bill Cosby is neither why you started reading this or why you should continue. Instead, I’m here to tell you a little bit about Cosby’s sentencing as well as his first few days in prison.
This past Tuesday, Sept. 25, Bill Cosby was sentenced to 3-10 years in prison for sexually assaulting a woman in 2004. The sentencing came just under five months after his conviction on three counts of sexual misconduct. The former comedian and actor’s investigation began back in 2015, after authorities finally officially pressed charges against him—nine years after Andrea Costand accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her in the first place. Costand was a 30-year-old employee in the athletics department at Temple University when Cosby, her 66 year old mentor, drugged and assaulted her in his home.
Over time, 60 different women have come forward with claims that Cosby drugged and assaulted them as well, with accusations dating back to the 1980s. While many victims chose to remain anonymous, some of the more prominent names in the trial include Janice Dickinson and Beverly Johnson. In spite of the many claims, Cosby was tried twice and convicted only once, as the statute of limitations had run out on the majority of the crimes.
In the four days since Cosby’s sentencing there have been no shortage of updates on the older man’s life behind bars. Since beginning his sentence, the aforementioned convicted felon has had a bit of a rough time. Headlines such as Vanity Fair’s “Bill Cosby’s Week Has Gotten Even Worse” and “Bill Cosby Reportedly ‘Under Seige’ In Prison,” seem to call for readers to feel some sort of empathy for the aforementioned convicted felon. Cosby has allegedly had stale food thrown at him and is begging his wife to get him out of jail. He has also been sued for over $280,000 by his legal team for unpaid legal fees over the course of his trial.
Bill Cosby is an old man paying for his indecent actions over the course of a long career. Making a case for the role of Cosby’s race in his trial and sentencing is valid, as black men have, throughout history, been held accountable for their actions and the actions of others far more than their white counterparts; but the argument also misses the true point of making an example of Bill Cosby. The various named and unnamed victims of his sexual misconduct have received a small bit of the relief and validation that they deserve. At least 60 women have been granted the privilege of seeing their abuser behind bars, and that is the only fact in the aftermath of this case that should mean anything at all.
Camryn Carwll is a third-year student English Writings major. CC873091@wcupa.edu