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Court of public opinion unjust to 'good man' Cos

I really had no intention of writing about this ever again. I'd said most of what I needed to say in print, on Facebook, on the radio and on television.

MATT ROURKE / ASSOCIATED PRESS Temple University accepted the resignation of comedian Bill Cosby from its Board of Trustees amid sexual-assault allegations.
MATT ROURKE / ASSOCIATED PRESS Temple University accepted the resignation of comedian Bill Cosby from its Board of Trustees amid sexual-assault allegations.Read more

I REALLY HAD NO intention of writing about this ever again. I'd said most of what I needed to say in print, on Facebook, on the radio and on television, and was getting tired of going around in circles about the phrase "statute of limitations." There were other things to think about during my birthday week, like how many Starbucks gift cards I was likely to get and whether actually asking for a bottle of Sambuca with a bow on it was declasse.

But then, someone said something that, like a red flag in the face of a bespectacled 5-foot-1-inch bull, made the steam flow. And I realized that this was not over.

"This," of course, is the sad saga of Bill Cosby and the way that he was taken down by a group of women and their enablers. There, I said it. I don't know or actually care if the allegations against Cosby are true. Personally, I don't trust most of them, particularly the ones coming out of the grotesquely plumped and misshapen mouth of ex-supermodel Janice Dickinson. But even if I did believe that every single one of the women who claims to have been raped by the Cos is telling the truth, I'd have a problem with the way this episode has unfolded. From the outside, you'd think you were in Salem, not Philadelphia.

The comment that put me over the existential edge was one from a former Facebook "friend" who told me that continuing to express my opinion supporting Cosby's position in this mess was, in his words, acting as an "apologist for a serial rapist."

It was the conclusory nature of his statement, that willingness to believe without any question or momentary hesitation the accusations of the Cosby accusers, that convinced me we'd moved to the other side of the Looking Glass; due process was replaced by Drew Pinsky.

You surely have heard of Dr. Drew, the television guru who nightly addresses critical national issues with dignity and restraint. Yes, I am typing with my tongue lodged so firmly in my cheek that I will have created a hole through it by the end of this column. I'm picking on Pinsky only because he happens to be the last person I saw commenting on the topic last night as I flipped through the cable stations looking for something to watch that would not upset my digestion. Big mistake stopping at his show.

The nebbish doctor was surrounded by a bevy of women who apparently think that short skirts and blond highlights will not detract from the content of your commentary if you wear a pair of really ugly glasses at the same time. The ladies who were Dr. Drew's "advisers" kept droning on about how we need to understand why women would wait years to file charges of rape, we need to understand why women would go back and continue to have consensual sexual conduct with a man they claimed raped them, we need to understand why women feel shame about being drugged, we need to understand why women who are given wine with drugs in it would return to the same room and have another glass of wine with, presumably, drugs in it.

As I listened to them, I thought the next thing I was going to hear was "we need to understand why women might lie," but I never heard that part. I suppose it's not good for ratings.

This, sadly, is what happens when you allow the court of public opinion to depose the court of law in our fickle, sound-bite society. I keep hearing about how we have to be empathetic and put ourselves in the high heels of the victims, commiserate in their pain, accept the fact that the courage they found in numbers is not necessarily a false courage but, rather, authentic.

What I don't hear is exactly why we are supposed to allow this confluence of timing and personalities to force us to accept what has never been proved: that a good man, a philanthropist, a conservative scold and someone who has never forgotten the roots in this city that he has only made better by his presence and his legacy is a sexual predator?

I am reminded of the Duke Lacrosse players and, before them, the Scottsboro boys who were stripped of their presumptive innocence because they served a societal purpose. In the first instance, a multicultural academic cabal that resented Caucasian privilege was willing, oh so willing, to believe that privileged white boys would have violated an impoverished black stripper. In the other, more tragic case, young black drifters were immediately viewed as animalistic rapists of chaste white ladies of the Jim Crow South.

And here, in 2014, an era steeped in the fear of being considered a wife-beater or a campus mauler, we are willing in such knee-jerk fashion to believe that an elderly man was capable of spending the last 50 years of his life raping women, simply because it's time to believe women unconditionally when they say, "I was abused."

As a woman with intimate knowledge of other abused women, I don't buy it. As a lawyer who spent an awful lot of time and money learning about the sanctity of the legal process (and trying to navigate its flaws and serpentine twists), I am angry.

And as someone whose family owes a lot to Temple, even if I personally don't, I'm appalled at the institutional cowardice shown by its quiet acceptance of Bill Cosby's resignation.

This is the last time I'll be writing about this debacle. But it won't be the last time I'll remember it, with disgust.