I was sitting in alone in a small workplace breakroom, at maximum it will comfortably hold 8–10 people, often it is empty. I had been there alone for a few minutes when an elderly white woman joined me, sitting not quite across from me but in the next seat over. I knew her name as we’d often said hello in passing. I knew nothing of her life. Her body was betraying her, she had a slight hunch and varicose veins. She seemed like she might be working past retirement age, I guessed in her late 60’s or early 70’s but I had never inquired about her circumstances. We worked in the same building but in different departments, I might see and speak to her once or twice a month.
I was checking the news on my cell-phone when she asked, “Have you been following the Kavanaugh hearings?”
I said, “I have, very closely as a matter of fact.”
She said, “I watched as much as I could of Dr. Ford’s testimony before coming to work. I believe her!”
“I do too.”
Bt then I’d looked up from my phone, she wasn’t looking at me but rather off in the distance. She didn’t say anything for a while and I went back to the news. A couple minutes passed and she spoke again.
“I told my daughter yesterday for the first time what I experienced, I remember it now as if it were yesterday. What happened to me was over 40 years ago and I could tell she was telling the truth. I’d never told anyone before but I had to tell someone so I told her.
The last time I saw the man was when he preached my father’s funeral. He was the pastor and everyone loved him. I loved him too as a preacher.”
She told me how he was always getting young girls in a position where he’d be alone with them. She wasn’t explicit, often saying, “if you know what I mean” or “he would do his business.” I made some acknowledgments along the way that I heard her but nothing I said was of any importance. I’m not usually at a loss for words but my role at this time was more about listening rather than talking.
She rose to leave, looking directly at me for the first time.
“The first time I ever spoke about this was yesterday, and now I’ve told you.”
Bill Cosby was just sentenced to the maximum sentence allowed after the judge in the case, Stephen T. O’Neil, consolidated the three felonies he was convicted of into one, fairly standard for Pennsylvania. He sentenced Cosby to 3–10 years which will be served in State prison, also declaring Cosby was a Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) and a continuing threat to the public despite being 81 years old and virtually blind.
Bill Cosby has been accused by over sixty women of having drugged them and having various degrees of sexual contact with them ranging from rape to digital penetration to other forms of sexual assault. The victim in this case, Andrea Constand was the only woman whose rape in 2004 was within the statute of limitations, had she not prevailed in the earlier trial. Cosby would be a free man, although several civil suits are still pending against Cosby for slander and defamation of character.
Many of Cosby’s accusers were present at the sentencing, some had testified at his trial as “prior bad act witnesses.” They gathered outside the courthouse in a pouring rain giving statements like, “this proves no man is above the law,” and, “finally, justice for women,” and, “women are going to be listened to from now on.” One woman felt “liberated,” saying, “there is justice.” Gloria Allred, attorney for several of the woman said, “women are finally getting justice.” Yet, we know through other public cases, justice is situational, not applying to Brett Kavanaugh or Donald Trump.
At the same moment as cameras were lined up in the hallway of the courthouse to glimpse Bill Cosby being led away in handcuffs and outside to see him driven off to state prison. Brett Kavanaugh is preparing for a Thursday Senate hearing where he’s expected to deny charges of sexual assault and attempted rape. Kavanaugh is seeking recommendation by the Senate Judiciary Committee for an open Supreme Court Justice seat, to be followed by a confirmation vote by the entire Senate. In his case, there is little interest in justice, and the women are literally not being heard as the Senate will not allow any corroborating witnesses to back up the story of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford about an event that transpired while they were in high school together. Ford alleges Kavanaugh with the assistance of his good friend, Mark Judge, pulled her into a room and attempted to pull off her clothes, covering her mouth to muffle her screams while Judge turned up the music. The eleven white male Republicans who sit on the Judiciary Committee have no interest in hearing from Judge who was in the room. They will not hear from other witnesses who heard about the event contemporaneously. They don’t even want to be seen asking tough questions of Dr. Ford and assaulting her character. Instead, they are hiding behind the skirts of a female staff lawyer who will do their dirty work.
Since the initial allegation by Dr. Ford, another accuser has come forward, this time a Yale classmate. Deborah Ramirez says Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party, pulling out his penis, putting it in her face and causing her to unwillingly touch it as she pushed him away. She named several witnesses to the event or that heard of it contemporaneously. Deborah did not come forward on her own, she was contacted by reporters that got wind of several Yale students discussing it on the Internet. The Senate has shown no interest thus far in hearing from Deborah Ramirez, they only want to vote, using their majority to push through the nomination, “plow through” in the words of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. President Trump has had a few words to say about the second accuser. He calls her story, “totally unsubstantiated” despite the number of witnesses. Trump says Ramirez was, “totally drunk,” forgetting that Kavanaugh was alleged to have been drunk during the incidents with Ford and Ramirez.
There are additional allegations as well. Attorney Michael Avenatti says he has a client who will come forward before Thursday’s Senate hearing with stories about Kavanaugh and Judge. He implies they arranged parties at Washington area homes where girls were given drugs and/or alcohol and boys gang-raped them, running “trains” on the girls. Kavanaugh writes in his 1983 yearbook of the Keg Club for which he was treasurer, “100 Kegs or Bust.” He writes about a woman he suggests he had sex with, along with several other classmates in the book. Despite all the allegations against Kavanaugh, it appears there will be no investigation, no corroborating witnesses in the Senate hearing. No additional accusers heard from, and Kavanaugh will be given a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. While Bill Cosby is still in an SUV on the way to prison. Kavanaugh faces no criminal charges, the worst currently contemplated is that he doesn’t get appointed to the Supreme Court but stays a Federal Judge with a lifetime appointment. What will he think about when he ends today’s practice session and watches Cosby on the news?
Back to Trump… Donald J. Trump has been accused by 19 separate women of charges ranging from rape of a 13-year-old girl to sexual assault, to sexual harassment. He’s facing possible charges related to FEC campaign finance violations associated with his payoffs of a porn star and a Playboy Playmate. He’s bragged of sexual assault, saying he can just kiss women and “grab ’em by the pussy.” An ex-wife once accused him of rape. Most of this was known before he was elected President, and people didn’t care. He has never met a Republican accused of a sex crime he didn’t support. From the biggest soapbox in the nation, he never believes the women, finding them not credible for doing what women do, not immediately reporting their assaults for the verifiable reason that they won’t be believed, among others.
While cheers are still ringing in a Pennsylvania courtroom where Cosby was sentenced to 3–10 years in prison. It’s way too soon to declare victory for #MeToo. Bill Cosby is rich and famous, well-known for his philanthropy. His image as a family man supplemented by the role he played on tv, Cliff Huxtable. There’s hope for #MeToo to see this type of man receive jail time for his crimes. But how many others have gone to jail? What of the messages being sent by the United States Senate and the President of the United States who say don’t believe the women, they were confused or mistaken? Or those that outright call them liars, part of a Democrat plot.
For justice to matter, it can’t be just an occasional thing. What applies to Cosby should apply to Kavanaugh, Trump, Weinstein, and all others where credible evidence is found and presented against them. The concern can’t only be for the future of the man and the impact on their life. If we’ve learned nothing else, it’s that these events stay with the women forever. Until the culture changes, and those that justify, excuse, or ignore bad behavior, pay a penalty for doing so. The behavior will continue. Can it really be the only high profile person prosecuted, convicted and sentenced is the black man? That sends a message as well.