The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania revoked its conviction of sexual assault in 2018, claimed the Comedian was “denied a fair trial.” Bill Cosby was freed yesterday from jail. He was sentenced to three years of a term, three to ten years, and was convicted of a sexual assault by Andrea Constand’s house in 2004.
In the final verdict, a “non-prosecution agreement” with a former District Prosecutor protected Cosby from being prosecuted, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stated. The court noted Cosby had sworn depositions in a separate civil action, believing that he was not to be charged, in which he issued “incriminating declarations” without the protection of his Fifth Amendment right.
Yesterday, Phylicia Rashad, who played Cosby’s wife on “The Cosby Show,” hailed the news. “FINALLY!!!! A horrible injustice has been righted — a travesty of justice has been rectified!”
Meanwhile, Time’s Up co-founder Amber Tamblyn was outraged: “This news has enraged me. I personally know ladies who were drugged and raped while unconscious by this man. This verdict and the court are both a disgrace.”
Bill Cosby is a stand-up comedian and actor. He would disappoint the entire world when they learned that he was not at all the wonderful person he portrayed himself to be. He became an American icon, and millions of people looked to him as a father figure and a moral compass.
Cosby Jr. was born in Philadelphia in 1937, and he was one of four children. His mother, Anna Pearl, was a maid, and his father, William Henry Cosby Sr., was a steward in the US Navy.
He was always the class clown and never took his education very seriously. He had failed so many classes that he decided to drop out of High School in the 10th grade to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the navy. He eventually earned his GED through a military program. He went to Temple University in Philadelphia under an athletic scholarship to be on their track and field team.
While in college, he worked part-time as a bartender. He would enjoy entertaining his customers by telling jokes and making witty comments. His customers encouraged him to get into stand-up comedy, so he began going to east coast comedy clubs in Philadelphia and New York City. People enjoyed his humor so much that he could book tours to major cities around the country.
He dropped out of college when he was 20 years old in favor of trying to make a career in stand-up. He appeared in several TV series telling his jokes, including The Tonight Show. In 1964, he married a woman named Camille Hanks. She was only 20 years old and in her sophomore year of college at that time, and Bill Cosby was 27.
They met on a blind date and did not know each other for very long before getting married. They went on to have five kids together. Cosby was known for mostly complaining about his kids and how difficult it was to be a father during his stand-up routines. Most parents could relate to everything he was saying, and it was considered a clean, wholesome comedy.
In 1965, Bill Cosby landed a starring role on the TV show I Spy. He became the first African American to star in a network television show. He was an inspiration to people everywhere, and young black men looked up to him as a role model.
However, I Spy was seen almost as a one-hit-wonder, and Cosby was not given any more of these dashing roles in the future. Since he was so popular with parents and had experience raising kids of his own, he turned one of his stand-up characters, Fat Albert, into a cartoon series geared towards young urban kids.
After making some money from his career, he finished his Bachelor’s and received a master’s degree and Ph.D. in Education from the University of Massachusetts in the 1970s.
He used Fat Albert as his thesis statement, explaining how he used the cartoons to educate children. He put all of this on his resume for creating educational content for TV, which helped him land gigs on future shows like Picture Pages, The Electric Company, and more. Deep down, Bill Cosby did not want to continue making children’s content, and he was really only doing it for a paycheck.
The Impact of The Cosby Show When he was 47 years old, Bill Cosby starred as a character named Dr. Cliff Huxtable in The Cosby Show. He took a break from TV to come out with comedy albums, and they did exceptionally well. He won 6 Grammy awards, and he was suddenly thrust into the limelight as one of the best-selling comedians. He would pride himself in writing clean comedy that anyone could listen to, and he would often criticize other black comedians like Eddie Murphy for using obscenities.
The Huxtables had 5 kids, just Bill Cosby and his real wife, Camille. People assumed that this story was parallel to who he was in real life. It became so popular, the TV ratings showed that half of the country was tuning in to watch.
At that time, black people were almost exclusively portrayed negatively in the media. America witnessed criminal activity and controversial protests from the black community. This was the first show to ever perform in an upper-middle-class black family. Both parents were funny, intelligent, and hardworking people who got an education.
A black American family was finally seen in a positive light. It was so genuinely funny that even white people were watching it. It helped to bring society together and help them understand that we indeed are all the same.
Unbeknownst to the audience, none of this was ever Bill Cosby’s idea. The show was created by two television producers named Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner. They wanted to develop a concept for a sitcom that no one had ever done before. After seeing Bill Cosby’s standup, they approached him about doing a series. Bill Cosby insisted that he would not work for less than a million dollars a year, and the show needed to have his name in the title.
Even though the producers already knew what they wanted to do with the series, Bill Cosby tried to control the narrative. He wanted to make it all about him. He pitched the idea that the show should be about a taxi driver tasked with taking care of the kids. He wanted to be married to a Latina woman. He thought it would be funny if she worked a traditionally male role, like a carpenter or plumber.
He chose a taxi driver for his character because he wanted to be able to go on monologues for the majority of episodes to tell the jokes he typically told in his stand-up routines. The producers pushed back with Cosby, explaining their original vision for portraying the new black American family.
They eventually convinced him to give it a try, and it exploded into a cultural phenomenon. However, Bill Cosby received all of the praise and recognition for all of the positive changes it made in society.
The show was filmed in New York City, and it attracted a lot of emerging African American talent. People loved Bill Cosby’s character of Cliff Huxtable and most people believed that he was just playing an exaggerated version of himself.
He gave black people acting jobs when they had never had the opportunity to work in the industry before as anything more than a background character or extra. He would have a “parade” of women who would come to audition to be on The Cosby Show.
People who worked with him knew that he was constantly cheating on his wife. Still, they assumed that these relationships were consensual. A girl would be seen speaking to Cosby, she would get one or two lines on the show, and then she was never seen again. Still, no one could have imagined how dark the situation with Bill Cosby actually was behind closed doors.
In a lot of ways, The Cosby Show truly did revolutionize the industry. And no matter who he was as a person, there is no denying that. He was the first African American to win an Emmy.
The Open Secret
It was never a secret that Bill Cosby cheated on his wife. He was often called a “womanizer” and openly admitted in multiple interviews that he had girlfriends outside of his marriage, as well.
Once, in Ebony Magazine, he said, “(When you turn 40) You look at the enjoyment you may get from a given activity, and then you look at the amount of work that may have to go into it … for example, sex with a beautiful young woman who has plenty of energy.”
A talented young actress named Lili Bernard was mentoring Bill Cosby for over a year in hopes that she could get a part on the show. She was honored that he was taking the time to teach her about acting. He always told her that she was “one of his kids,” and she truly did see him as a father.
After knowing her for a year, Bill Cosby convinced her to go to Atlantic City with the promise that she would meet an agent to help with her acting career. She never had any intentions of sleeping with him and believed that everything was strictly professional. Lili became friends with the other actors on set. Everyone thought that she would eventually become a new character on the show. When Cosby thought she was ready, she finally got the part in the TV show, a speaking role that only lasted a few seconds. She had no reason not to trust him.
When she got there, he gave her a drink, and she blacked out. She woke up to him raping her on the floor. It was so surreal. She couldn’t believe it was happening. She was in denial, hoping it was just a bad dream. After all, she felt like Bill Cosby was like her dad. When it was over, and reality sank in, she told him that she would go to the police. He threatened to sue her for defamation and said to her that she would go to jail.
He also threatened to completely ruin her acting career. He told her, “You’re dead to me, Bernard, you hear me?
Lili Bernard was no longer allowed on the set of the Cosby Show. Not only did she lose her mentor and father figure, but she also lost all of her friends that she got to see every day. The event was beyond traumatizing.
She attempted to get a few more roles in other TV shows but instead gave up on acting to become an artist. Even years after the rape, Lili Bernard was afraid to come forward because she honestly did believe he would make good on the promise to sue her for false defamation.
She was a struggling actress in New York who could not pay her rent, let alone hire a lawyer. She also knew that if the idea of Bill Cosby meant so much to her, it would also crush the hopes and dreams of African Americans across the country. She knew that no one would believe her, either. This is just one of many stories, and we couldn’t possibly go over all of them.
A total of 60 women came forward with similar stories. Andrea Constand was the first woman to come forward and publicly accuse him of rape. He offered to pay for her college degree, but she brought him to court instead. Several journalists wrote about the case, but many people brushed it off as a false accusation.
People said that Constand was just trying to make money from Bill Cosby. He couldn’t possibly be anything but this perfect Cliff Huxtable they grew up with as kids. Despite all of the proof being out there, the issue was not reignited again until 2014. A standup comedian named Hannibal Buress gained a lot of recognition for his role in the Comedy Central series Broad City.
During one of his standup shows, he called out Bill Cosby, saying that he had no right to lecture black people on their bad behavior when he is a rapist.
The story went viral. Suddenly, people knew, and they actually listened because another black man was confirming the truth.
Soon after she went public, 13 women approached Andrea Constand to say that they had also been rape victims of Bill Cosby. Soon after the comments by Hannibal Buress went viral, a reporter from The Associated Press attempted to ask him about the accusations. During this interview, we can see first-hand. Bill Cosby uses intimidation to make the reporter back down from revealing his comments on the rape accusations.
Trial and Sentencing
Despite all of these accusations coming forward in the media, people honestly could not fathom that Bill Cosby was a rapist. Many of his friends came forward to defend him, including Whoopi Goldberg.
She later recanted her statement. The first trial had a hung jury. They could not decide if he was guilty or not. Trials are supposed to be unbiased, and jurors are not supposed to learn too much about a defendant outside the courtroom. But decades of seeing Cliff Huxtable from The Cosby Show on TV, it was nearly impossible for people to separate the two, no matter how hard they tried. They just couldn’t believe that this sweet man was capable of such a thing.
Bill Cosby admitted more than once that yes- he gave quaaludes to women to have sex with them. But he didn’t define that as a ”rape”.
Even though 60 women have come forward, only three brought their claims to court. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean the rest are lying. It just means that they want to move on with their lives and not have to retell the stories of the worst moment in their life, and have their personal and family lives exposed in the media.
In September of 2018, he was convicted of aggravated indecent assault and was sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison. At 81 years old, he will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars.
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