The Downfall of America’s Dad’: Bill Cosby and #MeToo

By, Crystal Y. ’20

“Here was America’s Dad on top of me,” testified Janice Dickinson on April 26, 2018, one of the many women claiming to have been sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby. However, Dickinson’s encounter, which happened approximately 36 years ago, is not the one that this newest case against Cosby involves.

That title goes to Andrea Constand, who, back in 2002, worked as the director of operations for Temple University’s women’s basketball team. This position would soon cause her to cross paths with Cosby, a Temple alumnus, who later drugged and assaulted her.

These events happened in January 2004, approximately 14 years ago. So, why is Bill Cosby being convicted only now?

“Maybe no one wants to believe it,” one student said. “It is like finding out that your grandfather is an ax-murderer. I spent my childhood watching all of his shows. I did not think the guy could do anything wrong, ever.”

Still, she acknowledges that those feelings do not make Cosby any less guilty. “The scary thing about all of these men who are being accused of sexual assault is that you never expect it. Cosby’s been plagued with accusations for years now (and for good reason), but that is not always the case. And I think that that is really upsetting.”

Andrea Constand actually led a case against Cosby back in 2005, which ended in a jury deadlock and was later settled for 3.38 million dollars. The most recent case that ended in Cosby’s conviction is the retrial, which lasted from 2017 to 2018. Cosby has been convicted on charges of aggravated indecent assault, facing anywhere from 10 to 30 years of jail time.

Cosby’s trial comes as the first major, high-profile sexual assault case in the wake of the #MeToo era. As for whether the movement had any impact on the ruling, opinions vary.

One student remarked, “I think the #MeToo movement definitely helped, because suddenly all of these people were coming forward and sharing their stories, and it felt like change was actually happening. Sure, it is not going to happen overnight, but as more and more of this kind of thing happens, we will get there eventually.”

However, another student disagreed. “As much as I would like to believe that #MeToo changed things, it is unlikely that an internet movement spanning, like, six months had any lasting impact on the whole situation regarding sexual assault.

“Of course, Cosby’s conviction comes as a huge step in the right direction, but we are going to need more and more of those steps before we actually affect change. And, as with any change, there comes a lot of backlash.”

Already, Cosby’s reputation has taken a significant hit. On May 3, 2018, Cosby, alongside Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski, was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Some students commend the act, while others think that it is not harsh enough.

However, Cosby’s conviction comes as a clear indication that the public is starting to gain a new perspective on the debate surrounding sexual assault and its repercussions, and we can only hope that the outcome will be positive.