What Do the Cases Involving Bill Cosby, Clergy Sex Abuse, and Brett Kavanaugh Have in Common? Powerful Men Who Think Themselves Powerful Enough to Make Credible Accusations Disappear, but They Are Wrong
By Marci A. Hamilton
September 27, 2018
In the same week, Bill Cosby was sentenced and labeled a sex offender for drugging Andrea Constand and sexually assaulting her; Pennsylvania House members passed by overwhelming margins a strong bill for statutes of limitations reform for child sex abuse victims in response to Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s monumental grand jury report on six Catholic dioceses detailing craven abuse and callous cover-up going back 70 years; and the third woman emerged with accusations against Brett Kavanaugh for drunken sexual misconduct, including gang rape. In sum, there was a conviction of a sexual perpetrator, legal reform for sex assault victims, and more allegations from sexual assault victims.
Each of these instances is at a different stage in the justice system, but they are all cut from the same cloth. Wonderful, upstanding men are being charged with sex abuse and assault, and other powerful men race to defend their honor. Then the truth brings them all down.
Cosby Deploys His Reputation and Beloved Image to Persuade the World He Couldn’t Have Done What He Did…Until He Can’t
When the first victims came forward to allege that Cosby had raped them after drugging them, he responded with narcissistic arrogance, and sued them for defamation. No woman was going to say that about the most beloved comedian of all time. Not in his universe! This was Cliff Huxtable, after all, America’s wise and funny dad. Everyone loved him, and whatever he might have done, his fans would forgive him because he is such a great guy. He persisted with a comedy tour even as the number of women swelled to a veritable parade: at this point over 60. There was a moment when justice was in the balance, and it seemed to be leaning his way because no prosecutor seemed interested and no woman appeared to be within the criminal statute of limitations. Then Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, District Attorney Kevin Steele took up Andrea Constand’s case, which was months away from the statute of limitations expiring, and eventually succeeded. To state the obvious, Cosby had to cancel the tour and withdraw his defamation case. He now sits in prison for 3–10 years as the sex offender he is.
The Bishops Play on the Trust of Prosecutors, the Media, Parishioners, and Children to Hide the Truth About Their Pedophile Priests From the Public…Until They Can’t
For decades powerful bishops successfully conned prosecutors, parishioners, and journalists into believing that random reports of child sex abuse were just that, random and singular. Then there was the Boston Globe’s Spotlight report on the Boston Archdiocese. The bishops quickly gathered in Dallas and very publicly pledged a “zero tolerance” policy in response. Just trust them, and it would all be taken care of. Remember, the bishops and priests are holy men who should be given deference, they meant.
Then there was the 2005 Philadelphia grand jury report on the Archdiocese with a list of 63 priests, hundreds of victims, and detailed descriptions of appalling, horrific behavior with children. The Philadelphia Archdiocese quickly responded by calling District Attorney Lynne Abraham “anti-Catholic” for publishing the truth about sex abuse, calculating that the Philadelphia sheep would meekly follow. Many did discount the report as unfair or ancient history because all claims were out of the statute of limitations, but many others were outraged. Again, the hierarchy responded, “Trust us, we are taking care of this problem.” Then there was the 2011 grand jury report and the prosecution of Msgr. William Lynn for endangering children. Still, Philly Catholics trusted the bishops to do the right thing and, lo and behold, this 2018 attorney general’s grand jury report proves that the Pennsylvania bishops adopted a “full-tilt tolerance” policy that persisted in covering up sex abuse and endangering children. The identification of over 300 abusing priests in a nearly 900-page report stripped the blinders from the eyes of those who had trusted the bishops, and they finally saw the truth: this institution is incapable of protecting children from its predatory priests, employees, and volunteers. These powerful, arrogant men did everything they could to keep the ugly truth from public disclosure and the institution from accountability. Yes, they bought time, but there is not enough time in the universe to keep their deeds secret in this era.
Republican Senators and the President Defend This Fine Man, Brett Kavanaugh, Who Couldn’t Possibly Have Done What a Lengthening List of Women Say He Did…at Least Until They Can’t
Like Cosby and the Catholic bishops, Republican Senators including Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell are defending their golden boy Brett Kavanaugh against the charges of a series of women, each of whom describes drunken and disgusting sexual behavior. Now a mother says her daughter’s friend was attacked twenty years ago. Yet, how could anyone think this wonderful man who looks like an altar boy to this day would ever do anything untoward to a 15-year-old girl or woman? He’s a model of male behavior, a veritable paragon of virtue, who has claimed to be a virgin into his college years to boot.
The president has bemoaned the destruction of Kavanaugh’s “fine reputation.” For him, this is just a political “con job.” How dare the public question the man Trump and the Federalist Society endorsed with such enthusiasm? I mean, c’mon, he’s a great guy whose destiny is the Supreme Court. He’s entitled to it. He clerked for Kennedy and for former Judge Alex Kozinski, a noted harasser of women, lover of porn, and troller of law students, oh, wait, let’s not dwell on that. A fellow Yale freshman roommate says Kavanaugh drank a lot and he was an “aggressive and belligerent” drunk, but c’mon, don’t listen to these women. They are, after all, just women, and he is a powerful, wonderful judge man.
Is it possible that the president, Graham, and McConnell cannot see the irony of their public professions of love for this model man accused by one woman after another of untoward conduct? While they posture for his unblemished character, they are trying to rush this process through without full investigation because they appear to actually believe that even in the #MeToo era you can beat out such allegations.
They are wrong and should schedule a meeting with Cosby in prison or with any of the bishops. In lieu of such a meeting, here is a free fact checklist for them as they continue to persist in following Cosby’s and the bishops’ self-destructive path:
Sexual perpetrators can be white, handsome, rich, educated, and powerful. There is no economic, race, career, or age criterion.
Child sex abuse victims like Dr. Ford typically don’t come forward, on average, until age 52. They are traumatized and overwhelmed by the crimes committed against them. The vast majority don’t go to the authorities, and a third never disclose the abuse to anyone.
Public shaming of victims and blind support for powerful men because they are powerful does not end well for the defenders in the #MeToo era. Consult Harvey Weinstein.
Many Americans believe that women are the equals of men, so that a woman’s attack on a man’s character—even when it affects his livelihood—can still be taken seriously, and, frankly, should be.
The president bragged about sexual assault of women and seeing girls in their underwear at the Miss America pageant. Alleged child sex abuser Roy Moore lost his bid to be a Senator for Alabama despite that (or because?) the president backed his campaign.
Fifty-one percent of the American public is female. That is a majority.
Kavanaugh has had the chutzpah to persist in this nomination as the alleged female victims lengthen the queue. It reminds me of the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s Fr. Robert Brennan, who when he was deposed about seriatim abuse of children, denied that he knew any—even though the Philadelphia Archdiocese had actual notice he was a child molester for decades, and he knew it. The self-righteous buy-in to their sainthood is stunning.
To quote the Bible, “Pride goeth before a fall.”