Buying the Right to be Above the Law: Cosby's Mistrial
Even after five days of deliberations, the jury of the Bill Cosby trial was unable to reach a consensus and the judge declared a mistrial. Two out of the twelve jurors blocked a guilty verdict for Cosby on sexual assault charges from Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee for the women’s basketball team. Constand accused Cosby of drugging and then raping her in his Philadelphia home back in 2004. Spokesman Andrew Wyatt views the mistrial as a win for comedian Bill Cosby.
Across the nation, emotions were stirred over the absence of closure for Constand and five dozen other women who came forward with their experiences of Cosby neglecting sexual consent. However, this trend of rich men being able to pay their way out of their mistakes is nothing new. In 2016, Brock Allen Turner, Stanford student-athlete, was convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault. After being caught in the middle of sexually assaulting a girl behind a dumpster, Turner served only three months of jail time. In a letter to the judge, Turner’s father said, “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”
It’s true that a longer sentence would be a “steep price to pay," but his actions were not those without consequence. This short three-month sentence is disproportionate to Turner’s actions and sends a message that sexual assault isn’t a serious crime and violation of morals.
For another example of rich men being above the law, we can look to the White House. During President Trump’s campaign, an old video surfaced of Trump bragging about his various pursuits of women and how he would simply “grab ‘em by the pussy.” On the tape, Trump was also recorded saying, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” Apparently, there is truth to this, as enough people were willing to overlook these lewd acts and vote for this wealthy man to lead the free world.
Does the law have a price tag? It seems that it just might. Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O'Neill said, "A mistrial is merely the justice system at work." If this is the justice system at work, then we still have a long way to go. Cosby admitted to giving prescription Quaaludes (sedative) to women he wanted to have sex with. Multiple women stepped up to support Constand’s allegations, saying that Cosby had acted similarly towards them. Even then, the jury remained deadlocked until the end.
What will it take to make it clear that no one, rich men included, is above the law? There will be a retrial for Cosby, but I am unsure how different the outcome will be from the first trial when rich men can conveniently pay their way out of obeying the law.