#MeToo finally got Cosby
Last summer, Bill Cosby escaped justice with his first trial ending in a hung jury. This time, however, after two days of deliberation, a new jury found Cosby guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in his home.
The woman, Andrea Constand, was joined by other women who had accused the disgraced TV star in the courtroom and cheered when the verdict was read. This is being considered a watershed movement in the post #MeToo world.
Rumors of Cosby’s sexual delinquencies have surrounded him for decades. Comedians Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan have all referenced the allegations in various bits. However, it was not until Philadelphia Magazine posted a video of comedian Hannibal Buress making a joke on the matter, that real awareness of the allegations was raised.
Most of the women who accused Cosby in the past were not taken seriously. No one wanted to believe that “America’s Dad” could be a rapist. Cosby’s defense team and supporters tried to tarnish the credibility of the accusers, branding them publicly as attention-seekers and “whores.”
This type of slander is what kept Cosby free from prison and allowed for people to brush off other women who accused men of similar behavior. The shaming of the accusers kept other Cosby victims silent, as they feared an impact on their public perception and reputation. These tactics are not designed to unearth the truth but instead are ad hominem attacks.
In October 2017, the #MeToo movement took off after the sexual allegations against Harvey Weinstein were revealed. High-profile celebrities like Alyssa Milano, Terry Crews and Jennifer Lawrence took to social media and posted their stories of sexual harassment. The sheer magnitude of stories from Hollywood’s most powerful women to college students has shifted America’s view on sexual allegations. The movement has shown that anyone can be a victim.
Cosby’s first trial ended in spring 2017, months before the movement. One juror said, “Let’s face it: She went up to his house with a bare midriff, incense and bath salts. What the heck?” It is one thing to be skeptical but this often escalates to blaming the victim.
After the movement and his second trial, Cosby was declared guilty only after two days of deliberations. Another factor in aid of the prosecution was that five other women who accused Cosby of sexual assault were allowed to take the stand. They shared similar stories to that of Constand. These testimonies showed a pattern of Cosby’s predatory behavior.
The #MeToo movement did not guarantee a guilty verdict in this case or in the case against Dr. Lawrence Nassar, who abused over 160 women. However, the movement, the women and the men who were brave enough to tell their stories did have an effect. They have changed accountability norms and how society views these allegations as a whole.
These cases and the movement have shown that, when victims band together to tell their stories and receive support from society, no one can escape the long arm of the law, no matter how much money they have, power they wield or the legacies they built.