The decision by prosecutors in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, to bring 12-year-old sexual assault charges against Bill Cosby was greeted with elation by women who say they too were victimized by the comedian.
“The best Christmas present they’ve ever received,” attorney Gloria Allred said of women she is representing in their civil claims against Cosby. That reaction is understandable, particularly since the allegations of sexual abuse were too long brushed aside.
It’s hard, though, for us to feel anything but sadness – at the pain these women said they experienced and at the crumbling of an icon who was once revered for the good he did and for his ability to get us to laugh.
It was hard to see that man – the one who brought the world Cliff Huxtable and Fat Albert – in the frail 78-year-old who was arraigned on three felony charges of aggravated indecent assault. Cosby is accused of drugging and sexually abusing a young woman he had mentored; the alleged incident took place at his suburban Philadelphia home on a January night in 2004.
Attorneys for Cosby denied the charges.
It is hard, though, to accept claims of no wrongdoing by Cosby, given the sordid stories that have blotted his career. Andrea Constand, the alleged victim in the Pennsylvania case, is not alone in her accusations of abuse. More than 50 women have come forward with eerily similar – and credible – recollections. Cosby’s own words in a deposition in a civil suit brought by Constand damn him; he acknowledged securing drugs with the aim of giving them to young women he wanted to have sex with.
Whatever the outcome of the legal case, another verdict – the one about Cosby’s legacy – has already been rendered: It is irretrievably gone.