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What Does a Mistrial in the Cosby Case Mean for Victims?

On June 17th, the judge presiding over the case against Bill Cosby officially declared a mistrial. Cosby, a well-known comedian and actor, has been accused by dozens of women of sexual assault on many counts. While the prosecution has already stated that it will once again take the criminal case to court, this verdict has left many in shock. The jury was said to be in a deadlock, unable to come to an agreement on the validity of the charges that Cosby allegedly drugged and raped former Temple University employee Andrea Constand in 2004.

Another woman who accused Cosby of assault, Jewel Allison, told New York Magazine, “He asked me if I wanted a glass of wine; I took a few sips. It had a horrible taste. And I started not feeling well.” Allison continued, “And then he took my right hand, and he put it behind my back. I remember seeing semen on the floor. And I felt some liquid on my hand. That was when I knew something sexual was going on.” This occurred after Cosby had allegedly invited her to a dinner party where she turned out to be the only guest in attendance.

The vast majority of sexual assaults are never reported. According to Women’s Health Magazine, the Justice Department puts the percentages of attacks that go unreported as high as 68 percent. Because of this alarming statistic, New York Magazine’s cover, which features Jewel Allison and the 34 other women who publicly accused Cosby, is a big deal. These women are sticking together and fighting back against sexual assault and a culture that too often trusts rapists over victims.

While these women’s courage should be commended, this verdict does seem like an undeniable slap in the face to them, after they were brave enough to come forward. Rebecca O’Connor, the Vice-President of Public Policy at the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) tells WomensHealth.com, “In the wake of this case, and headlines about high-profile cases like Bill Cosby and Jerry Sandusky, we’ve seen a surge on the National Sexual Assault Hotline of individuals who are raising their voices and reaching out for support.” Despite this disappointing setback, the mistrial does not seem to be scaring women away from telling their stories, but rather the opposite.

The huge amount of publicity surrounding the Cosby case has highlighted several things. First, rape affects everyone, regardless of race, class, or age. This case has also shattered the notion that if you know someone or admire them, they couldn’t have possibly committed such a heinous crime. Cosby was well-known and loved by countless fans of The Cosby Show, but that doesn’t discredit the overwhelming evidence against him. Lastly, it is important to show to victims of sexual assault that no one is above the law.

O’Connor, who has also worked with domestic violence victims, notes, “As much as it can be frustrating to see a mistrial in this case, there’s a little bit of a silver lining in that it’s been held up in the public that no one is immune from prosecution for these crimes.” Then, very somberly, she acknowledges, “Unfortunately, even Cliff Huxtable can be, at the end of the day, a rapist.”

Featured Image by The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia on Flickr

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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1 Comment

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    Janice Henshaw

    June 30, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    Very good article on Cosby tho’ it’s maddens and saddens one to read of this case.
    Let’s hope these women who accused him get justice. He must pay for his crimes!!
    Thank you,
    J.H.

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