Sunday, July 21, 2019

Chasing Cosby: The Downfall of America's Dad

I remember Bill Cosby from the beginning. I owned several of his comedy albums when those things were available only as vinyl LPs, and I paid good money to see him perform live when he came to my town.  I remember well his huge breakthrough to star in the weekly television series “I Spy” with Robert Culp, a huge achievement for an African American actor of that time. And, of course, I remember the “don’t-miss” series that my own children grew up on in which Cosby portrayed the perfect father and family man the whole country fell in love with. Little did any of us know that just below the surface of one of the most beloved men in America lurked one of the most despicable human beings on the planet. The real Bill Cosby.

For decades, too many powerful people, and too many weak people who depended upon Cosby for a paycheck, consciously and knowingly enabled Cosby to drug, sexually abuse, and rape dozens and dozens of women.  Cosby, after all, was a generous man who said all the right things about what was wrong in society – especially what he saw as the self-destructive way that too many African Americans raise (or don’t raise) their children. He gave millions of dollars in support of colleges and charities over his lifetime, and that bought him the benefit of the doubt for way too long.  Simply put, Cosby was a black man who achieved tremendous success and wealth, and he singlehandedly did more to change the image of the black family than anyone before him.  As such, he was sacred, and no one wanted to see him fall from grace.

Nicole Weisensee Egan
But fall, he did – with a thud heard around the world – and Nicole Weisensee Egan’s Chasing Cosby explains exactly how it all happened.  Cosby was first tried for his crimes in 2005 in a Philadelphia courtroom, but the resulting mistrial allowed him to walk away a free man.  Try as he might to buy off his accusers, though, in 2018 Cosby found himself again having to fight for his freedom. And this time, things would be different: the #MeToo movement was happening and even though the statute of limitations allowed only one of his accusers actually to bring charges against him, sixty-two other women had also gone public with their own stories of nonconsensual drugging, molesting, and rape at the hands of Bill Cosby.

None of what Egan reveals about Cosby’s crimes and how they affected his victims for the rest of their lives is easy to read. Dozens of women suffered, and Cosby, his wife, many in law enforcement, and many in Hollywood could not have cared less. Cosby, the con artist, fooled most of us – but he was protected by others who knew the truth and did nothing to stop him.  According to Tommy Lightfoot Garret, a “Hollywood insider,” it was no secret in Hollywood what Cosby was doing and what kind of man he was. Garret claims to have heard the rumors in the 1980s when he first became part of that scene, and he says that, “Everyone who was anyone in Hollywood knew.”  But no one wanted to place Cosby, their cash-cow, in danger.  How else could he have gotten away with something like this for decades?  One of the most disgusting things about Cosby’s defenders is how ready they were to claim that he was simply another victim of racism – that no white celebrity would have been charged with the same crimes under the same circumstances. What they ignored is that approximately one-third of Cosby’s accusers were themselves black women, most of whom struggled with their role in bringing down a black icon like Cosby.

Justice
But the creepiest thing pointed out in Chasing Cosby, a point that is seldom brought up, is the utter disregard that Cosby had for the lives of the women he was drugging and raping. He was not concerned that they might die from the drugs he was slipping into their drinks; he did not worry that they might have other health issues or that they might die in an accident on the way home if they managed to get away from him before passing out.  Some of these women were unaware of what was happening to them for more than 24 hours – others say they did not feel fully in control of themselves again for as long as four days. It is a miracle (and I hope it’s true) that no one died at Cosby’s hands.

In his defense, the author does point out that Cosby is a man with a mental problem. He openly displayed that by chuckling out loud at his second trial during the prosecution’s defense of the character of his accusers. But Cosby’s problem is deeper than that. He has been legally labeled a “sexually violent predator,” a person with a mental disorder that “makes him likely to repeat his crimes.” As such, he is required to participate in monthly counselling sessions for the rest of his life. He will forever be a registered sex offender.

Chasing Cosby is not an easy book to read. It will make you angry, and it will leave you wondering just who is the guiltiest in a case like this one: the convicted criminal or all those hangers-on who helped him set up his victims. 

Book Number 3,418

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for this excellent review, Sam. I wondered how revealing this book was and now have my answer. We had a similar case with a famous DJ and TV presenter, Jimmy Saville. I don't know if you ever heard about it but he was a massive worker for UK charities, untouchable because of it, but people knew what he was like (a sexual predator like Cosby but not in exactly the same manner) and said nothing. He's dead so couldn't stand trial like Cosby. The big difference for me is that I was genuinely shocked about Cosby, loved his TV show and so on. I was not shocked about Saville, never liked him and always thought he was creepy. Seems to me you often just can't tell.

    How are your eyes now?

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    1. Cath, I lived in London for three years in the late nineties and I've always been an Anglophile, so I'm aware of jimmy Saville and his terrible story. What bothers me most is that this kind of person could be stopped very quickly if people would just speak up about what they know. But for lots of reasons, some of them even legitimate reasons, they almost never do that until its way too late to save countless victims.

      This is a good book and it reveals a lot about Cosby and those around him. It left me angry and I'm still angry to know how often this happens around the world. I sincerely hope that Cosby dies in prison because that's what he deserves. He's spending his fortune on his appeals right now, but I can't imagine this conviction ever being reversed.

      My eyes are doing very well. I've officially got 20-20 vision in both now, but I still have enough astigmatism in both that I have to use reading glasses in order to read comfortably and without eye strain. So I've taken to stashing "cheaters" all over the house and in my car so that I'll always have a pair handy when I need them. Thanks.

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  2. I was one of those fans as a kid, we watched the Cosby family show regularly and admired what he portrayed on the screen. I was shocked and sickened when I heard about all this. I'm glad the truth has come to light, but unfortunately I don't think I care to read the details in this case.

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    1. I know what you mean, Jeane. I found it hard to get through, myself. It's a disturbing story in itself, but what bothers me most is how easy it is for rich and powerful people to get away with this kind of thing forever. We are about to hear a very similar story, I suspect, when the facts about that latest billionaire pervert are exposed in a few weeks or months.

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  3. I used to love The Cosby Show and Bill Cosby's stand-up routines. He was always so funny. But now... It's sad, and it makes me angry, too. But mostly it makes me shake my head and wonder how and why someone could do the things he did.

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    1. He's a sick man, Lark. Even his behavior in the courtroom during his two trials was disgusting. He pretended that it was all a big joke, and openly laughed at the women testifying against him while they were answering questions. And he's a fraud, even claiming to be legally blind when that was never the case and pretending to be a frail little old man in order to get jury sympathy. Thankfully, it didn't work and the world now knows him as the truly disgusting man he always was.

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