The court of public opinion is a mighty one and it has ruled: the curtain is closing on Bill Cosby.
The 77-year old comedian is facing allegations of sexual assaulting more than a dozen women since the 1960s. Already, 15 women have accused Cosby of fondling, drugging, sexually assaulting or raping them. As a result, NBC has canceled a new sitcom, Netflix postponed plans for a comedy special, and TV Land has pulled “The Cosby Show” reruns from its lineup.
The silence is so loud…
Cosby, thus far, hasn’t spoken. Last Sunday, Cosby’s lawyer, John P. Schmitt, issued a statement saying the comedy legend would not “dignify” the “decade-old” claims.
As I examine this situation, I wear two hats. I am a sexual assault survivor and a public relations strategist. As a public relations counselor, I believe Cosby’s crisis pr team could have forecasted this years ago and prepared proactively for the tsunami they are facing now. If the allegations are untrue, Cosby should have come out swinging. Instead, his unwillingness to engage sends the message that he is guilty or has something to hide.
As a survivor of sexual assault, I know how difficult it is for victims to speak up. A lot of people have been questioning, “Why are these women just now coming forward?” “They just want a settlement against this rich man and get media attention!” Cosby’s attorney Martin Singer states, “The new, never-before-heard claims from women who have come forward in the past two weeks with unsubstantiated, fantastical stories about things they say occurred 30, 40 or even 50 years ago have escalated far past the point of absurdity. When will it end?”
In my own life, it took me 20 years to find the courage to write about my sexual assault. For two decades, I literally feared the man who attacked me would track me down and kill me.
And I certainly didn’t write my book for attention, for recognition, or to become famous. I wrote it so I could heal.
The bottom line for rape survivors: no woman wants this kind of fame.