The parade of women with allegations against popular comedian Bill Cosby is almost non-stop, actresses, models and celebrity wives recalling alleged incidents from ten, twenty, even thirty years or more ago. Their claims are enough for many people in the media and the public to find Cosby guilty and condemn him, and Cosby’s having gigs cancelled, a re-run of The Cosby Show cancelled and much more adverse impact on his life.
Meanwhile, locally, a University of Colorado Boulder student is suing the school after he was accused of rape and suspended for three semesters without actually being convicted of the alleged crime. The co-ed claimed rape, he claimed their pairing was consensual, and the University sided with her based purely on her allegations and suspended him before any investigation.
What do these have in common? An underlying assumption of guilt based on allegations.
I find this chilling because I believe one of the great American tenets is the legal dictum of innocent until proven guilty.
The alternative, of having someone accuse a man that “he forced me…” or “he drugged me…” or “I changed my mind and he wouldn’t listen…” and that then being sufficient for them to be tried and found guilty in the court of public opinion and condemned to whatever consequences the public believes appropriate, well, that’s a horrible world to live in, a place where innocent men and women can have their lives destroyed at the whim of another.
Now I don’t know if Cosby is innocent or guilty, nor do I know the circumstances around the alleged rape that occurred at CU Boulder, but I know this: if these are legitimate accusations, then we have a legal system that’s quite capable of investigating and finding out the truth of the situation.
And in the meantime, just because someone says something happens that doesn’t mean that’s what actually occurred. Even if other people say “me too” ten, twenty or thirty years later.
Let’s keep that in mind when we watch people pile on the anti-Cosby bandwagon…