Bill Cosby To Teach Men To Avoid Sexual Assault Allegations (Updated)
Bill Cosby is planning to spend the summer teaching men how to avoid sexual assault allegations:
Bill Cosby is planning a series of town hall meetings this summer to educate people, including young athletes and married men, on how to avoid accusations of sexual assault, two of his representatives said Wednesday.
The announcement came just days after Mr. Cosby’s trial on sexual assault charges ended in a hung jury and while he is still battling civil suits from other women who say he assaulted them too.
“This issue is bigger than Bill Cosby,” his representative Andrew Wyatt said on “Good Day Alabama,” a show on WBRC Fox 6 in Birmingham.
“This issue can affect any young person — especially young athletes of today,” he continued, “and they need to know what they are facing when they are hanging out and partying, when they are doing certain things they shouldn’t be doing.” Mr. Wyatt said the issue “also affects married men.”
Ebonee M. Benson, who works with Mr. Wyatt and joined him on the program, said the need for awareness had grown because the statutes of limitations on sexual assault have been extended in several states. In some cases the legislative efforts were aided by women who have accused Mr. Cosby of molesting them.
“People need to be educated on a brush against the shoulder,” she said. “Anything at this point can be considered sexual assault.”
The Cosby announcement drew immediate rebukes from several quarters, including the anti-sexual violence organization RAINN.
“It would be more useful if Mr. Cosby would spend time talking with people about how not to commit sexual assault in the first place,” said Jodi Omear, an organization spokeswoman.
Kristen Houser of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center said a number of organizations exist that would be far more appropriate choices to lead an educational program on this issue than Mr. Cosby, whom she described as “a person who has 60 allegations of sexual assault against” him.
Gloria Allred, a lawyer who represents several women who have accused Mr. Cosby of assault, said the “workshops appear to be a transparent and slick effort to attempt to influence the jury pool from which jurors will be selected for his second criminal trial.”
One of the town halls will be held in Alabama in July, Mr. Wyatt said on the show. In a later email, he said Mr. Cosby had received “hundreds of calls from civic organizations and churches requesting for Mr. Cosby to speak to young men and women about the judicial system.” He said the program would include a critique of the decision by prosecutors in Pennsylvania to charge him last year.
“Speeches will be free,” Mr. Wyatt said.
Mr. Cosby later thanked the television station for having his publicists on the show. He is currently free on bail while he awaits a retrial of the criminal case in which he is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault in connection with a 2004 encounter with a woman at his home outside Philadelphia. The woman, Andrea Constand, says Mr. Cosby drugged and assaulted her.
Mr. Cosby and his lawyers say the sex was consensual.
As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up.
More seriously, though, it’s worth noting that anything Cosby says in any of these lectures could end up being used against him in the retrial of the charges against him. I’m sure that his lawyers will do their best to make sure he knows this, it’s still risky for a Defendant to do something like this since it’s always possible that they’ll slip up and say something that could end up being used against them as direct evidence, or as impeachment testimony should Cosby end up testifying in the second trial, although it seems unlikely that would happen
In any case, it strikes me that Cosby’s lectures should be pretty short since this seems a pretty easy issue:
Step One: Don’t sexually assault women
Step Two: If you’re accused of sexually assaulting a woman make sure you’re a beloved celebrity who was once known as America’s Dad.
In the meantime, some of the jury members are starting to speak out about the first trial that ended in a mistrial:
The jury deliberated for 52 hours before a mistrial was declared because jurors were hopelessly deadlocked. On Thursday, The Associated Press and a Pittsburgh television station reported that jurors it spoke to had said the panel ended its deliberations almost evenly split between those supporting conviction and acquittal.
That depiction was at odds with that of a juror who spoke to ABC News earlier in the week and had said that 10 members of the panel had voted to convict Mr. Cosby but were unable to persuade two jurors who would not budge.
Some jurors were concerned about the 10-year delay in prosecuting Mr. Cosby, and that politics had been involved, The A.P. reported.
WPXI Channel 11 in Pittsburgh played a recording of a man it said was a juror who said the voting was evenly split.
“Whatever the man did, he has already paid his price, paid, suffered,” the voice in the recording said. “A case that was settled in ’05 and we had to bring it up in ’17.”
On Wednesday, the ABC News report, based on its own conversation with an anonymous juror, said the panel had voted 10-2 to convict Mr. Cosby on two of the three counts.
In one of the juror accounts that surfaced Thursday, the panelist agreed that there had been a 10-2 vote at one point, but said the mood in the room changed in the later hours and was roughly split between those who sought a conviction and those who wanted to acquit Mr. Cosby.
What this portends for the second trial is unclear at this point, but it seems clear that it will be an uphill battle.
Update 6/27/2017: Bill Cosby’s publicist is now saying that the speeches his client will give will not be dealing with sexual assault at all:
Remember last week when Bill Cosby’s two publicists said he planned a series of town hall meetings this summer to educate people about sexual assault?
They reversed course Sunday to say that the meetings would actually be about the entertainer’s legacy, not sexual assault.
“I just want to be clear,” one of the representatives, Ebonee M. Benson, told CNN’s “New Day Weekend.”
“The town hall meetings are not about sexual assault,” she said. “I will repeat. These town hall meetings are not about sexual assault.”
Ms. Benson blamed the media for the confusion. But sexual assault certainly seemed to be the focus of the talks when Ms. Benson and her colleague, Andrew Wyatt, announced they would happen on a television show, “Good Morning Alabama,” last week after Mr. Cosby’s trial ended with a hung jury.
“This issue can affect any young person — especially young athletes of today,” Mr. Wyatt said, “and they need to know what they are facing when they are hanging out and partying, when they are doing certain things they shouldn’t be doing.”
Ms. Benson had added that people particularly needed to be educated because the statute of limitations on sexual assault had been extended in some states and that “anything at this point can be considered sexual assault,” even, she said, “a brush against the shoulder.”
Mr. Cosby later tweeted to thank the show for talking to his representatives. But their comments drew immediate rebukes from several anti-sexual violence organizations.
In an email Thursday, Mr. Wyatt had elaborated, saying the speeches would be free and that Mr. Cosby was responding to requests from civic organizations and churches “to speak to young men and women about the judicial system.”
Ms. Benson told CNN on Sunday that their comments on the Alabama program had been misinterpreted by the media.
“This went way beyond a comment made from an interview by my colleague a couple of days ago when we initially talked about the town hall meetings, it was about restoration of legacy,” she said. “To take something meant to talk about the restoration of this man’s legacy that was destroyed by the media before he even had a chance to step into the courtroom. That’s what this is about.”
Take it for what you will. My suspicion is that Cosby’s defense lawyers intervened to advise him and the publicists about how unwise it would be for him to even utter the words “sexual assault” in public while criminal charges are still pending against him.