Our View: Cosby’s a predator, not a martyr

In this frame from video, Bill Cosby, center, leaves the courtroom after he was sentenced to a three-to 10-year sentence for felony sexual assault on Tuesday in Norristown. - Pool Photo via AP

What were you thinking when you first saw Bill Cosby in handcuffs Tuesday afternoon?

Were you thinking his three-to-10-year state prison sentence represented justice finally catching up with a predator?

Were you thinking that it was excessive punishment for a legally blind old man who might not survive incarceration?

Or were you, like Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt, convinced that the legendary actor and comedian is the victim of the “most racist and sexist trial” in the nation’s history?

Our view: This was justice. It was right and proper in keeping with the law.

We can understand those who might still feel some compassion for the elderly and ailing Cosby, even as we are disgusted by his crime. That’s a very human reaction.

But neither his celebrity status nor his age and condition should exempt the 81-year-old from the punishment any other sexual predator would receive.

And the state is not without compassion. Cosby could be sent to Laurel Highlands, a prison for lower-risk inmates on the other side of Pennsylvania, about 70 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, according to the Associated Press.

That facility serves inmates with special needs and has separate housing units for geriatric prisoners and programs for sex offenders. All things considered, that seems like a reasonable and humane accommodation.

We absolutely cannot agree with Wyatt’s reckless and unreasonable statements, however.

Among other things, Wyatt said all three of the psychologists who testified against Cosby were “white women who make money off of accusing black men of being sexual predators,” the AP reported.

There have been many racist and sexist trials in American history. It defies credibility to rank Cosby’s proceedings with those.

There have been gross miscarriages of justice against African-Americans. Our nation’s history is stained by the unforgivable crime of black men and boys being lynched for exactly what Wyatt alleged, namely fabricated sexual crimes allegedly committed by black men against white women.

That was, we now know, exactly how 14-year-old Emmett Till came to be murdered and mutilated in 1955 by two white men in segregationist Mississippi — men who were quickly and unanimously acquitted.

Bill Cosby is no Emmett Till.

Yes, he was a black man in a country that remains tainted by racism. He also was a wildly successful, wealthy and respected entertainer whose popularity earned him the moniker “America’s Dad.”

Millions of us welcomed him into our living rooms week after week, and have fond memories of his undeniable talent and humor.

But dozens of women also allege Cosby to have been an aggressive predator who drugged and violated them, in accounts that bear striking similarities.

The woman whose accusations led to his conviction and incarceration, Andrea Constand, testified that Cosby gave her what she thought were herbal pills to ease stress, then violated her as she lay immobilized.

Cosby contested the allegations with some of the best lawyers his money could buy. After a mistrial in 2017, his retrial earlier this year ended in conviction. He said his peace, and a jury didn’t believe him.

“They persecuted Jesus and look what happened,” Wyatt said in a video captured Tuesday by Associated Press reporter Michael Sisak, quickly clarifying that “I’m not saying that Mr. Cosby is Jesus, but we know what this country has done to black men for centuries.”

“Did Jesus sexually assault women?” Sisak shouted back.

No, but Bill Cosby did, at least once. He’s a criminal, not a martyr.

— Times Leader

In this frame from video, Bill Cosby, center, leaves the courtroom after he was sentenced to a three-to 10-year sentence for felony sexual assault on Tuesday in Norristown.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_121327290-ce94a14762cf4a218a8fe5e4624d24ad-2.jpgIn this frame from video, Bill Cosby, center, leaves the courtroom after he was sentenced to a three-to 10-year sentence for felony sexual assault on Tuesday in Norristown. Pool Photo via AP