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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.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    Perhaps Donald Trump could join him. They could do a road show: The “Grab ‘Em by the Pussy” Tour.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Step One: Don’t sexually assault women

    Beat me to it, Doug.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  3. KM says:

    “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.”

    Can I just say I freaking HATE this logic? Personal suffering – either real or perceived – has exactly zero to do with legal consequences. That the defendant had “paid for their crime” in any way but through a sufficient legal judgement should not impact the case. We keep seeing this pop up in rape cases lately – that the accused’s reputation will be harmed, that they are “good people” that have suffered and shouldn’t have to go to jail because wasn’t all this drama and media attention enough?

    I really don’t care how your actions have personally affect you and neither should the court. Are you guilty or not is what they are trying to determine, not how badly your poor fee-fees have fared because the law isn’t happy with you right now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  4. legion says:

    Step one: be rich as hell.

    Step two: be too famous to fail.

    Step three: press the “win” button.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. Gustopher says:

    To be fair to Mr. Cosby, the culture is shifting to where we take the sexual assault of women more seriously. When he began drugging and sexually assaulting women, he had no idea that it would ever be considered a crime, or even a social faux pas.

    Sure, there was Roman Polanski, but he sexually assaulted a child. And even that prosecution was a bit surprising at the time.

    Bill Cosby merely drugged and sexually assaulted grown women. It was hardly viewed as anything back then.

    Bill Cosby is a lot like your racist old uncle who calls a spade a spade, and just tells it like it is. He’s horrible, but he’ll hopefully be dead soon.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  6. gVOR08 says:

    @KM:

    the accused’s reputation will be harmed, that they are “good people” that have suffered and shouldn’t have to go to jail because wasn’t all this drama and media attention enough?

    What? You want wealthy, successful, respected people treated as criminals just because they commit crimes? Have you no respect for our social norms?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  7. Kylopod says:

    @CSK:

    Perhaps Donald Trump could join him. They could do a road show: The “Grab ‘Em by the Pussy” Tour.

    I was wondering how long it will be before Trump starts defending Cosby.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:

    Actually, Trump criticized Cosby back in 2014 for not aggressively denying the allegations. “I don’t think he’s handling it very well, from a P.R. standpoint,” Trump said.

    Maybe Trump thinks that Cosby should have gone on Twitter and called the women “dogs,” “pigs,” and “losers,” and like Trump himself did, claimed they were all too old and ugly to bother with.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    the culture is shifting to where we take the sexual assault of women more seriously.

    There’s long been a view in pop culture–seen in countless movies and TV shows–that a man forcing himself on a woman is simply “being a man.” It’s especially so if it’s accompanied by the misconception that if the woman ultimately gives in, it isn’t rape. See, for instance, an early scene in Blade Runner between Harrison Ford and Sean Young. On the Game of Thrones show, there was a rape scene that wasn’t in the books, and I was disturbed to find out that the writers didn’t regard the situation as rape. The culture may be shifting, but a lot of myths continue to be widely disseminated and believed. Cosby isn’t just a crazy old uncle but still represents the attitudes and behavior of a lot of people today.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. Not the IT Dept. says:

    It’s an interesting question: would Bill Clinton be elected president now, knowing what we knew about his extra-marital activities at the time? (This would be pre-Monica, of course.) If I’m remembering correctly I think that people were troubled about it, but the whole hitting-on-women was seen by many as Clinton being a hound dog or some equally folksy description. I voted for the man twice, without regret, but it’s a question I’ve pondered in the last few years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. James Pearce says:

    @Kylopod:

    See, for instance, an early scene in Blade Runner between Harrison Ford and Sean Young.

    Hmmm…..I don’t recall Harrison Ford “forcing himself” on Sean Young in that movie. Was this before or after his character give her the Voight-Kampf test?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. bill says:

    maybe oj can join in?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  13. Grewgills says:

    @James Pearce: 11
    It was after. She shows up outside his apartment and he pins her to the wall and forces himself on her. It is pretty typical of the era. Indiana Jones does it a couple of times too. Watching movies from the 80s and before, particularly any action movie pretty much always has a sexual assault scene with the woman deciding she wanted it after all by the end. It’s more than a little creepy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. CSK says:

    @Grewgills:

    That’s still the premise of a lot of romance novels aimed at women readers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. Franklin says:

    @bill: Heh. OJ to teach men to teach men to avoid murder allegations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. James Pearce says:

    @Grewgills:

    She shows up outside his apartment and he pins her to the wall and forces himself on her.

    So I went back and watched the scene and I can see how someone walking by a screen showing that particular scene can see it as Rick Deckard “forcing himself” on Rachel, but in the context of the film? It’s a little more complicated than that…

    That being sad, I wish that the “problematic” stuff in entertainment is the stuff that’s “problematic” in context.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0