Fallen icon Bill Cosby’s three-to-ten-year prison sentence, delivered on September 24th, left some New Yorkers shocked and others relieved. He was found guilty of three counts of aggravated sexual assault on Andrea Constand, former director of the women’s basketball team at Temple University. Speculation had been that he might walk with probation and no time to serve, in consideration of his age and ill health. But the sentence delivered by Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill means that he will spend at minimum, three years behind bars. And his accusers are vowing to show up at that parole hearing and any that may come after.
“No one is above the law, and no one should be treated differently or disproportionately,” said Judge O’Neill in comments after the verdict.
Although his lawyers plan to appeal, Cosby went immediately to prison, where he will have to await any subsequent trial. He’ll undergo monthly counseling and register as a sexually violent predator, so that in the event he is someday released, neighbors and schools in his area will be aware of the nature of his conviction.
Cosby escaped a harsher sentence that his accusers say he deserves, because he faced only one of them, Constand, in court. She says he drugged and sexually assaulted her in 2004. The statute of limitations had run out by only a few months for artist and activist Lili Bernard, who says Cosby raped her in the ‘90s while mentoring her for an appearance on The Cosby Show. She’s one of his more vocal rape/sexual assault accusers and expressed satisfaction with the sentence in an interview on Democracy Now! the next day.
“That torrential rain that was pouring down as we emerged from the courthouse was so serendipitous because Judge Steven O’Neill, he delivered a tsunami of a sentence! I view it not only as something that signaled a shift in rape culture away from misogyny and toward believing and valuing women, but I also see it as an absolute mark in terms of gender equality and the history of women’s rights.”
In contrast, Cosby spokesperson Andrew Wyatt believes that Cosby should be subject to neither accusation nor prosecution.
“They persecuted Jesus and look what happened,” he said to reporters outside the court after the verdict.
This verdict was a long time coming, as the trial follows an earlier one, which ended in a hung jury in 2017. Judge O’Neill, who presided over the first trial as well, then allowed one of the 60 women who came forward to charge Cosby to testify during that trail. For the trial that just ended, he allowed five.
Meanwhile, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh now has a third woman officially accusing him of being at least present when gang rapes occurred. Washington resident Julie Swetnick, saying on record, in a sworn affidavit, that while a high school student in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh, along with others spiked drinks with alcohol and/or drugs at house parties to “cause girls to lose inhibitions and their ability to say ‘No.’ “She said Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge did this so the girls “could then be ‘gang raped’ in a side room or bedroom by a ‘train’ of numerous boys.
“I became the victim” of one such rape, “where Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh were present,” says Swetnick in the affidavit. Her attorney, Michael Avenatti, who also represents Trump’s alleged pay-for-play mistress, Stormy Daniels, is representing Swetnick.
On Monday, the Montgomery County Sentinel reported that authorities in Montgomery County, Maryland are looking into a fourth potential allegation of assault by Kavanaugh. “While investigators weren’t specific and spoke on background, they said they are looking at allegations against Kavanaugh during his senior year in high school after an anonymous witness came forward this weekend,” says the Sentinel.
Kavanuagh’s initial accuser testifies today before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Christine Blasey Ford says he covered her mouth, held her down and thrust himself on top of her at a party during high school days. Although she does not want to see Kavanaugh serving on the nation’s highest court, she was reluctant to come forward, and as feared, has received death threats and had to move her family out of their home. The Senate Judiciary Committee vows to proceed with a vote on Kavanaugh’s appointment on Friday, which some lawmakers and news analysts say renders Blasey Ford’s testimony before the body a sham of a hearing.
A second accuser Deborah Ramirez, came forward over a week ago to charge that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her as well, thrusting his penis in her face at a party in college. The Committee has not returned her attorney John Clune’s calls requesting that she be allowed to testify. He says that although she would prefer an FBI investigation, as Blaisey Ford wanted, she would likely testify without it.
Brett Kavanaugh has a high-profile supporter in Donald Trump, whose consistent and vocal defense of the nominee is unprecedented for a sitting president in U.S. history. He recently opined on the character of Kavanaugh’s accuser, the veracity of her account, and the supposed machinations of the Democratic Party in the matter – all without any investigation being done. His statement overshadowed a session he was supposed to be having with the U.N. delegate from Colombia.
Trump Senior Aide Kellyanne Conway weighed in at a press conference a few days earlier, saying about Kavanaugh, “I just don’t think one man’s shoulders should bear decades of the MeToo movement.“ The #MeToo Movement is not decades old, and its founder, Tarana Burke, just listed by The Root as one of the 100 Most Influential African Americans, disagrees.
“There’s a dangerous narrative that this is not the #MeToo Movement,” she said in an interview on MSNBC. A few days earlier she Tweeted: “I want to continuously scream this from the rooftops. This is a survivor’s movement! We will not let Dr. Blasey Ford’s experiences be invalidated by partisan nonsense.”