How many allegations will it take for people to believe Bill Cosby is a rapist?

“O you who believe, if you borrow until a delayed period then you will write it amongst you, and let he who is an official record keeper write between you, and let him not refuse to write as God has commanded it. And when he writes, let he who has borrowed give the details of the transaction and he shall fear his Lord God and not omit anything. If the one who has borrowed is not fit, or if he is weak, or if he can’t complete the information; then let he who is responsible for him fill-in on his behalf. And you shall have TWO witnesses from your men, and if they are not two men then let them be ONE man and TWO women from those whose testimony you accept, so if one of them is misguided , then one will remind the other…..” (2/282)

As you can see from this excerpt from the Islamic holy book, the Quran, it takes two women to equal the testimony of one man. Yeah, that’s sexist as all get out, but compared to Bill Cosby’s rape allegation deniers, that’s downright enlightened. In the comments sections of article after article, you can find Cosby’s defenders vehemently denying the accusations against him. There’s even a Facebook page titled ‘Bill Cosby is innocent until proven guilty’ (yeah, these people, like many USAmericans do not understand that ‘innocent til proven guilty’ only applies to the inside of a courtroom). None of them has a shred of evidence to support their opinion. I suspect they’re basing their opinion on Cosby’s body of work as if his portrayal of Cliff Huxtable or his comedic skills somehow means he can’t be a rapist.  Just because he is/was a successful comedian…just because he portrayed a warm, loving father on the Cosby Show, that makes him NOT a rapist?  Uh-uh. That’s not how that works. In fact, his body of work has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not he raped anyone. The flip side of these views, of course, is that all those women and their allegations? They’re lying liars who lie. No, we don’t live in a rape culture where people automatically assume women are lying when they claim they were raped. Le sigh.

Random commenters on the Internet are not the only people leaping to the defense of Cosby.  Some of his former co-workers and other celebrities have also jumped to his defense.  Phylicia Rashad (who played Claire Huxtable on the Cosby Show) recently broke her silence on the subject:

She stands defiantly behind him. She told me that in the years she’s known him, she has never seen the behavior alleged by the women who say they were drugged and raped, or sexually harassed.

Why would she expect to see such behavior? In virtually all the cases, the assaults happened with no witnesses. Of course she wouldn’t have seen any such behavior! He drugged and assaulted these women in private.

Rashad said:  “What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it’s orchestrated. I don’t know why or who’s doing it, but it’s the legacy. And it’s a legacy that is so important to the culture.”

No, what you’re seeing is women who have decided to remain silent no longer. They’ve been harmed by him, and kept quiet, sometimes for decades. As more women spoke up, those who were silent found the courage to speak up, despite the inevitable backlash from Cosby’s fans.

Rashad dismisses claims from both Beverly Johnson and Janice Dickinson. “Oh, please,” she said when their names came up. She also is quick to defend Camille Cosby. “This is a tough woman, a smart woman,” she told me. “She’s no pushover.” There is no question, Rashad said, that Camille Cosby has not been complicit or looked the other way as her husband terrorized women for the last 50 years.

“Oh please”? Well, I guess that is all that is needed to refute Johnson and Dickinson. Oh, wait. No. It’s fucking not. I’m so tired of people automatically assuming women are lying when they allege that they were raped. This is one of the reasons so many women don’t speak up, because people assume they’re lying. If no one is going to believe you, then why speak up? What justice can be had if you’re treated as a liar?

She said, “Someone is determined to keep Bill Cosby off TV,” alluding to people other than the women. “And it’s worked. All his contracts have been cancelled.”

Good. Rapists should not get their own television shows.

We talked more about the legacy of The Cosby Show. “This show represented America to the outside world. This was the American family. And now you’re seeing it being destroyed. Why?”

The ‘Cosby Show’ has not been destroyed. It still exists. It still had a tremendous impact on how African-Americans are viewed in this country. It’s still a landmark series that helped show that Black people were just as diverse as white people, and I’m sure it helped chip away at some of the prejudices held by many USAmericans.

She said Cosby himself is probably too proud to raise a defense. I countered that his silence reminded me of how Jerry Lewis reacted whe, after 50 years. the Muscular Dystrophy Association treated him like dirt. He refused to fight back. To quote a popular song from the 70s: “If you don’t know me by now, you will never never know me.”

Cosby has mounted a defense, via his legal team. That defense has consisted of exactly the same shit Rashad has said: those women are lying.

So what to do about Cosby’s accusers? Rashad feels strongly that some other force is at play– for some reason, Cosby’s great strides in education, as well as show business, are being ruined so that new generations will only remember him by this scandal. And what about a defense from the man himself? “If he spoke now, what do you think the media would do with it?” Rashad asked. And let’s face it, she’s right about that.

This is so damn sad. It’s easier to believe in a far-reaching, vast conspiracy spanning decades and involving over 30 women than it is to believe that Bill Cosby is a serial rapist.  Uh huh.

Artist Jill Scott has also defended the comedian:

It’s great that you know him, buuuuuuuut…I hate to break this to you, rapes are often committed by people the victim knows. According to RAINN:

Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.
73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger.
38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.
28% are an intimate.
7% are a relative.

So this “I knew him and you didn’t, therefore he’s not a rapist” is naught but bullshit.

Camille and Evin Cosby (wife and daughter of the comedian) also defended him, saying:

“He is a kind man, a generous man, a funny man,” Cosby’s wife Camille said in a statement first reported by CBS on Monday. “A different man has been portrayed in the media over the last two months. It is the portrait of a man I do not know.”

Cosby’s youngest daughter, Evin, followed up by praising her parents in a lengthy Facebook post.

Then, in a statement obtained by Access Hollywood on Tuesday, Evin said this:

“He is the father you thought you knew. The Cosby Show was my today’s TV reality show. Thank you. That’s all I would like to say :)”

I fully understand why family members would be in denial. But for all that they love, respect, and trust him…well, I’d point to those RAINN statistics again. I’m sure he has been loving and respectful to his family, but he’s also been a serial rapist.

While Cosby’s defenders are busy denying the allegations against him, the number of victims has continued to rise (33 named women have spoken up). Cindra Ladd is the latest woman to publicly accuse Cosby of rape:

In 1969 I met Bill Cosby while working in New York for the late film producer Ray Stark. I was a 21-year-old single woman in the world’s most exciting city. He was a 32-year-old internationally known comedian and television star, one of the most likeable and popular entertainers in the business. He asked for my number and I gave it to him.

We began hanging out, took in a movie, watched television and ate pizza and hot dogs in my apartment with my roommate. He was married to his current wife and he acted like a perfect gentleman who didn’t come on to either of us, which, I have to admit, made me wonder what his objective was.

One night we were going out to a movie. We agreed to meet at an apartment that he said belonged to a friend of his. I had a terrible headache but didn’t want to cancel the evening. He told me he had a miracle cure his doctor had given him that would get rid of the headache. He went into another room and came back with a capsule. I asked a couple of times what it was. Each time he reassured me, asking, “Don’t you trust me?” Of course I did. This was Bill Cosby.

For more than 45 years I have tried to recall exactly what happened that night. To this day it remains a blur. I have a vague recollection of feeling like I was floating while walking through Times Square and watching some kind of Japanese samurai movie with him. I don’t remember where the theater was nor very much of the evening.

What I do recall, vividly and clearly, is waking up the next morning nude in the bed of his friend’s apartment and seeing Cosby wearing a white terrycloth bathrobe and acting as if there was nothing unusual. It was obvious to me that he had had sex with me. I was horrified, embarrassed and ashamed. There was a mirror above the bed, which shocked me further.

To Cosby’s defenders, Ladd is lying. She has an agenda. She is part of a vast conspiracy to keep Cosby off of television. To me, she is a brave woman who spoke up about being drugged and raped by a man whom many people continue to hold up as an icon.

I have to wonder, how long will people continue to think he’s a great man? Can you watch this clip and still think of Cosby as a good man who would never violate the boundaries of women and ignore their consent?


As Jay Leno said when he spoke about the allegations surrounding Billy Cosby, why is it so hard to believe women?

For a no-holds-barred skewering of Cosby, check out the second episode of Larry Willmore’s Nightly Show.

How many allegations will it take for people to believe Bill Cosby is a rapist?