No tears for Bill Cosby

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Bill Cosby listens to the verdict in his sexual assault retrial. | Mark Makela/Pool photo distributed by the Associated Press

No one should feel sorry for Bill Cosby.

After all, he’s a wealthy man who has enjoyed the finest things that this life has to offer.

During his career, Cosby went from a stand-up comic to an actor who broke racial barriers in the entertainment business, and he challenged the nation’s perceptions of the black middle-class with his portrayal of Dr. Cliff Huxtable.

OPINION

A philanthropist, Cosby used his vast wealth to support historically black colleges and universities, and other causes near and dear to African-Americans.

So seeing this once-revered comedian reduced to a scowling old man accused of unthinkable acts against women, well, there’s a piece of me that just wants to cry.

Don’t get me wrong.

When more than 60 women claim they were molested by this famous entertainer over a span of five decades, there has to be some truth to the allegations somewhere.

Prosecutors found it in the form of Andrea Constand, a former employee at Temple University, Cosby’s alma mater.

Constand alleged that Cosby drugged and sexually violated her in 2004 at his Philadelphia home. But in an earlier trial, a jury could not reach a verdict.

Andrea Constand arrives to resume her testimony during Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., on April 16. | Dominick Reuter/Pool photo distributed by the Associated Press

Andrea Constand arrives to resume her testimony during Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., on April 16. | Dominick Reuter/Pool photo distributed by the Associated Press

Then came #MeToo, and a frenzied outing of powerful men in the entertainment industry accused of sexual harassment and misconduct.

If prosecutors had any qualms about retrying Cosby, they likely disappeared after the swift downfall of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, the Today Show’s Matt Lauer and actor Kevin Spacey.

A jury on Thursday found Cosby guilty of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and molesting Constand.

Although Cosby claimed the sexual encounter was consensual, he acknowledged giving the woman Benadryl, an allergy medicine that can cause drowsiness.

And in an earlier deposition, Cosby admitted he acquired quaaludes to give to women he wanted to have sex with. The drug, a sedative, was popular on the disco scene in the 1960s and 1970s.

At 80 years old, Cosby is facing 30 years in prison. If he gets just 10 of those years, it is unlikely he will ever taste freedom again.

Coming against the backdrop of #MeToo, this could foreshadow what’s in store for other powerful men who have been accused of sexual assault, but were not criminally charged.

Or it could mean that the courts will make an example of Cosby and things will go back to the way they were.

Prior to #MeToo, Constand had a difficult time getting law enforcement to believe Cosby molested her 14 years ago.

After the verdict on Thursday, the tearful district attorney apologized for the decision not to charge Cosby in 2005, the AP reported.

Still, Cosby’s conviction was felt deeply by many because it made the unbelievable real.

We bond to our TV heroes without giving thought to the fact that they are pretending and are as flawed as the rest of us.

As America’s No. 1 Dad, Cosby became a symbol for everything that was good and decent about family life. That the entertainer was drugging and molesting women who looked up to him is inconceivable to some.

And others point out that of all the prominent men caught up in the sexual misconduct scandals, only Cosby has been charged with a criminal offense.

But if there are tears to be shed, shed them for the women who have to endure, knowing that Cosby has gotten away with this despicable behavior toward them because of the statute of limitations.

If there are tears to be shed, shed them for the family and friends who staked their reputations on Cosby’s innocence.

If there are tears to be shed, shed them for Camille Cosby, the wife of 54 years who has steadfastly stood by her husband’s side.

These are the people who were betrayed by someone they should have been able to trust.

Whether Cosby goes to jail for the rest of his life or is spared dying behind bars, his famous life is now just a cautionary tale.

• • •

‘ZEBRA SISTERS’ PODCAST: Ending racism in hockey

Sun-Times reporter Evan F. Moore and Brad Erickson, founder and executive director of Inner City Education (ICE), join us to discuss the lingering racism in the predominantly white sport of hockey in Episode 12 of the “Zebra Sisters” podcast cohosted by Mary Mitchell and Leslie Baldacci on race relations from the viewpoints of two women, one black and one white. New episodes every Saturday. Subscribe (free) on iTunes and Google Play Music — or listen to individual episodes on the Sun-Times’ website. Email zebrasisters@suntimes.com or give them a shout-out on the Zebra Hotline at (312) 321-3000, ext. ZBRA (9272).


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