James L. Walker, Jr. (@jameslwalkeresq)
ATLANTA – Like many, I’ve stayed silent for a few days now as like millions of people, I have a mix of feelings on this sad tragedy for all parties involved: Bill Cosby convicted of sexual assault.
A man I admired when I was a young journalist as The Cos (as he was affectionately called back when his tv show was #1 for 8 years), gave my classmate and I an exclusive interview during the Howard University 1989 student protest and school shutdown and sit-in.
Cosby was on campus to speak at our Convocation Service, when students shut the school down for appointing Lee Atwater to its Trustee Board and in the end, the protest ousted then president James Cheek.
A classmate and I found Cosby hiding in the Fine Arts building with school leaders and he waved off security throwing me out to allow us in the room for an exclusive interview that later ran citywide in various newspapers, including the Washington Post.
Fast forward now 30 years later and this man will be sentenced in 2 1/2 months to most likely spend the rest of his life in prison.
His Cosby Show’s Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable-Theo Huxtable relationship inspired a lot of my imagination on the joys of fatherhood and the eventual relationship with my own children, particularly JW3 (James L. Walker, III), my current law school son.
Funny enough, I can remember JW3 telling me “Dad, why do I really have to go to college and why can’t I just be a regular person and work a “regular” job?
And, of course, like Dr. Heathcliff, I listened carefully to a then 15 year old son, then quietly paused and then barked very loud, “LJ (Little James) that is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard you say…no wonder you can’t make straight A’s or pass your math class…” (echoing Cliff’s legendary, funny, yet unapologetic, dismantling of an emotional Son Theo’s idea to avoid college in one of the series most memorable episodes).
Nevertheless, having said all of this, it is a New Day. Despite the private Howard interview of my youth that I still appreciate from decades ago with Mr. Cosby, something has changed.
And, despite the incredible impact of his Cosby show on my family and millions of prime time viewers nationwide, in seeing two black educated professionals raising a family and simultaneously, shattering the stereotype of Good Times, Sanford & Son and a number of other sitcoms, it is a new day in our perception of Bill Cosby.
We have to mentally (and emotionally) separate Bill Cosby the man from the beloved Bill Cosby the actor, arguably the greatest television Dad ever, who also gave us the Saturday morning laughs with Fat Albert & The Gang and who gave us those hysterical, classic 70s movies with Mr. Sidney Poitier & Mrs. Denise Nichols (“Uptown Saturday Night”, “Let’s Do It Again” and “A Piece of the Action”, etc…).
A jury has found Dr. William “Bill’ Cosby guilty of three counts of sexual assault. And, as an officer of the court, as much as I want to believe it is an error or some big misunderstanding, RAPE and drugging women and abusing your star power shake the very conscious of my core, cringe my insides and deeply disturb my soul as a human being.
It is just so ironic, that as a parent, the very commonality many of us hold so dearly with the portrayals Mr. Cosby depicted for 8 straight #1 Seasons as a fun-loving honorable father is the most disturbing thing in reading these stories AS A FATHER with two daughters, who are the ages of many of these victims, at their time of their alleged abuses. The Father and Parent Screams out: this could be my daughters or nieces, who could have been any of these many young women who trusted a mentor in Cosby.
And, admittingly and without dispute, indeed, race, sex, culture, money, politics, media, and a few other factors, all are at work in this tragic, near Shakespearian fall of a TV Giant and Icon, who gave millions of dollars to Spelman and other colleges and has done so much in philanthropy, but this will all be overshadowed by the horror and facts of his conviction.
I take issue with the prosecutors cutting a deal with Mr. Cosby years ago involving Andrea Constandt and then undoing that deal years later, on a campaign promise to convict Mr. Cosby -while President Trump, Harvey Weinstein, Roman Polanski, Woody Allen and several others have not been prosecuted or even doused with the same outrage from prosecutors in their respective jurisdictions.
Of very significant note, over the next two months, Team Cosby faces a serious crisis as the legal finesse of the Gloria Alreds, Lisa Blooms and many unknown, yet aggressive attorneys, will line up at the court house to file civil suits all across the country and introduce the criminal conviction to booster their cases. I do not believe all 60 women are telling the truth; however, I don’t believe all 60 women are lying.
And, frankly, who am I to ask either way or judge; as the fact remains: a Pennsylvania jury has convicted this 80-year-old man of sexually assaulting one woman for sure: Ms. Andrea Constandt.
With an estimated fortune of nearly $400 million dollars, from the syndication rights alone on the Cosby Show and A Different World reruns, which Cosby reportedly owns a 20% stake of the profits (both estimated to have grossed a collective billion dollars in deals over the past 20 years), Cosby will seek to cut deals with all of these women accusers.
Russell Simmons had one of his lawsuits dropped last week and fortunately, had the Cosby verdict over shadow any real media coverage (in my opinion, Simmons most likely settled the case with the plaintiff and avoided a messy civil case, but still has a dozen women to tend with and other litigation matters pending).
But for Cosby, if no deal is cut, many of the women will show up like the many female Olympians showed up for the Larry Nasser sentencing in Michigan and urge the judge to give him the maximum sentence of 30 years.
In essence, the lawyers will subtly make it clear to Team Cosby privately, if you do not want our “Victims” present 2 months from now in that courtroom, you might want to settle this case for a million or two.
While subtle behind the scenes, expect most of these lawyers for the victims to call press conferences with the women present, strategically appearing to file suits asap to keep the public pressure on Cosby. Interestingly, AIG covered his legal defense for the criminal matter (after fighting in court to disown him unsuccessfully as an insured).
One wonders if AIG would be required to cover the Civil Cases that are sure to be filed this week.
Lastly, I must state I am shocked that Cosby did not take a plea deal and do 1 years of home incarceration, register as a sexual offender and move on from this matter, prior to this recent jury decision as one outlet reported he was offered said deal. I would have highly advised him to take this offer, if it was on the table.
I pray for all parties involved and the Cosby Family, who both at the end of the day, will live these scars and pains for many years to come, regardless of conviction (for Cos) or payment (for the victims).
The Cosby children are in my deepest prayers as is any woman allegedly abused by Cosby and their families.
This is no laughing matter!!!
Attorney James L. Walker, Jr., is an adjunct Professor Entertainment Law, and has 25 years of work in the business of entertainment as a litigator, business lawyer and legal analyst. He is on social media (IG: @jameswalkerjresq and Twitter: @jameslwalkeresq) His website is: www.walkerandassoc.com.
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