I don’t know whether Dr. William Cosby is guilty or innocent but his alter ego, Bill Cosby is certainly being tried in the court of public opinion for allegedly sexually assaulting several women. So far, Cosby, the much acclaimed educator- actor-comedian, has chosen not to dignify the accusations with a response. It’s his right, of course, since he’s not been formally charged with a crime. Nevertheless, the damage to his reputation has been done. No matter what the final outcome, Cosby is screwed (no pun intended).
Cosby joins a short list of other celebrities who have faced similar accusations of sexual misconduct — some were convicted, others had the charges dropped. Doubtless, no matter what happens, Cosby will have a hard time putting all this behind him. Thanks to the media attention and the long reach of the Internet, the sexual assault allegations will continue to be a footnote whenever his name comes up. Cosby is a victim of his own celebrity. Being rich and famous, however, doesn’t give anyone the right to manipulate or hurt another person for his own pleasure. If the allegations prove to be true, I strongly condemn Cosby’s actions but not him as a person (I’ll explain later).
All of us have had moral failings but they usually don’t make headlines, not unless we’ve committed a crime or harmed others in the process. If the police don’t arrest us or the injured party remains silent, we can avoid being found out, and thus escape the punishment we deserve. Several of the allegations against Cosby date back to the 60’s and may still be open to prosecution in the jurisdictions where they occurred. A plea to victims of sexual assault — the statue of limitations for this crime is broad, it may not be too late to report it. Don’t continue to blame yourself and suffer in silence. It’s time to tell somebody.
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE and online.rainn.org.
As to my earlier comment about condemning a person’s actions but not the person, our culture is known for throwing people away when they do things that we consider vile or unforgivable. We sometimes take away their freedom, ability to make a living, and never let them live down their transgression. In God’s eyes that makes us just as guilty as the person we are condemning. You may have read the biblical account of the woman caught in adultery by some men who wanted to stone her to death because she had sinned. However, these men made the mistake of asking Jesus what he thought of their plan. And Jesus responded:
Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her. John 8:7
The story ends with all of the woman’s accusers throwing their stones down and walking away. Man condemns, but God forgives. It doesn’t matter to God what you’ve done. We may not have committed sexual assault, but we’ve all done something we’re not proud of — none of us is perfect.
But if we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing. I John 1:9