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A verdict that makes sense

Entertainment | The Bible doesn’t allow abusers the shield of secrecy, and neither should U.S. courts
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 4/27/18, 04:02 pm

For jurors in the Bill Cosby sexual assault case, the verdict ultimately came down to one question: Whom did they believe?

More than 60 women have publicly accused the comedian and actor of drugging and assaulting them, but a Pennsylvania jury had to consider only one of those cases this week. Andrea Constand said Cosby gave her three blue pills that sedated her before he molested her in 2004 at his suburban Philadelphia home. Prosecutors’ first attempt to convict Cosby in the case ended in a hung jury last year. This time, the jury deliberated for about 14 hours before finally reaching a guilty verdict.

Cosby and his lawyers acknowledged that he and Constand had sexual contact, so the jury only had to deliberate whether the act was consensual. Pennsylvania law says that an unconscious person cannot give consent, nor can a person who has been intentionally drugged by someone else. The jury asked for more guidance about the definition of consent during deliberations, but Judge Steven O’Neill responded, “You have the legal definition of the crime. … If that definition does not contain the definition of consent, then the jury will decide what consent means to them.”

Constand has always said she never gave Cosby permission to touch her, and he has always said she did. Each side in the case worked to discredit the other as a habitual liar. In the end, it came down to the question that has defined the #MeToo movement: Who is telling the truth? O’Neill instructed the jury to “apply your common sense” in deciding the question. 

Similar instructions are given in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 22:25-27 says that if a man rapes a woman in “open country”, where her cries for help cannot be heard, he must be put to death. He cannot argue that she consented if he contrived a situation that excluded the possibility of witnesses.

The #MeToo movement is filled with stories of powerful men luring their victims to private places. For Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, and their ilk, hotel suites, lavish mansions, and locked offices became the open country of Deuteronomy. Evidence shows Cosby added yet another layer of secrecy by drugging his victims so even they wouldn’t know what was happening until it was too late.

For the women who say Cosby assaulted them, just being believed has given them a sense of justice.

“I feel like I’m dreaming,” Cosby accuser Lili Bernard told reporters after the verdict’s announcement. “I feel like my faith in humanity is restored. … It is also a victory for womanhood and it is a victory for all sexual assault survivors, female and male.”

Associated Press/Photo by Fredrik Persson / TT Associated Press/Photo by Fredrik Persson / TT A large crowd gathers in Stortorget square in Stockholm, while the Swedish Academy held its meeting at the Old Stock Exchange.

#SwedesToo

A #MeToo scandal has so shaken the group of Swedish academics who select the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature that it might not give out the award at all this year. The trouble started brewing in November, when 18 women accused noted Swedish cultural figure Jean-Claude Arnault of sexual assault and harassment. Arnault’s wife, poet Katarina Frostenson, belongs to the Swedish Academy that awards the Nobel literature prize. A Swedish newspaper reported Arnault also repeatedly leaked information about the academy’s Nobel deliberations. Several academy members called for Frostenson’s ouster and then resigned themselves when they couldn’t muster enough votes. Now Frostenson, another academy member, and the academy’s permanent secretary have also stepped down, leaving the group one member short of the 12 it needs to elect new members to fill the vacancies. 

What comes next? According to the Daily Mail, the temporary head of the Swedish Academy has said he doesn’t know but hopes to figure it out soon.

The scandal represents more than just embarrassment for Sweden, which takes the responsibility for selecting Nobel Prize recipients very seriously. Protesters held a rally Thursday in Stockholm to demand that every member of the literature selection committee resign. Similar demonstrations were planned in cities across the country. Even the king of Sweden weighed in, threatening to use his authority to change the Swedish Academy’s rules to fill the empty board positions. —L.L.

Associated Press/Photo by Sanja Bucko/Warner Bros. Pictures Associated Press/Photo by Sanja Bucko/Warner Bros. Pictures From left: Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding, and Constance Wu in a scene from Crazy Rich Asians

Time to shine

Warner Bros. has signed on to combat the underrepresentation of Asian-Americans on U.S. television and in movies with the planned release this summer of Crazy Rich Asians. Constance Wu (Fresh Off the Boat) stars in the big-screen adaptation of the best-selling book about a Chinese-American woman who travels to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family (who, per the title, are crazy rich). Similar to Marvel’s approach with Black Panther’s treatment of Africans, the producers of Crazy Rich Asians worked to build a cast and crew that celebrated Asian culture both on and off camera. “There is a hunger for not just token representation but to really dive into the world of different ethnicities and races,” producer Brad Simpson said. The film is scheduled to come out Aug. 17. —L.L.

Real fake news

The account of how a student loan refinancing company invented a fake expert and got well-known media outlets like The Washington Post to quote him should send shivers up the spines of online journalists everywhere. It turns out the The Student Loan Report’s Drew Cloud was a made-up persona used by multiple employees of the same company that owns LendEDU, a company that sells—you guessed it—student loans. The story is a cautionary tale about questioning what you read on the internet and how to tell fake news from the truth. —L.L.

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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Comments

  • Nate G's picture
    Nate G
    Posted: Fri, 04/27/2018 05:01 pm

    I have a number of problems with the Cosby trial and the #MeToo movement, but the biggest one is the statute of limitations for rape allegations.  Is it just me who thinks allegations of any kind made long since any physical evidence can be gathered lends itself towards being a bit of a kangaroo court?  Especially with feminism on the line in a dark blue state?

    I find the idea that a rape allegation can be made 20+ years down the line to be absolutely ludicrous.  Like honestly - either file a police report in the first 48 hrs when physical evidence can be collected and search warrants can be issued, or you've lost the right to file allegations at all.  Nobody waits 20+ years to accuse someone of breaking into their house or killing their dog, and outside of the feminist's desire to witch-hunt men, I don't comprehend why rape should be any different.  People like Kristina Ruehli who wait 40 years to "be brave" should simply not be allowed to take the stand.

  • Laura W
    Posted: Sat, 04/28/2018 03:10 am

    You really can't think of any reason why it might be harder to go public about having been raped than about having had one's house broken into? I'm not saying there aren't potential problems with long time delays, but it really isn't such a straightforward decision to go to the police about it. Especially since there are people who make accusations about ulterior motives, and physical evidence isn't always readily available.

  • hilltop5
    Posted: Sun, 04/29/2018 02:37 pm

    I know far too little about this Bill Cosby case to conclude guilt or innocence.  Men have desperately sick hearts and power often provides opportunity and arrogance to exercise wickedness. Sin must to be exposed and stopped as quickly as possible.  Although, let’s be careful. Allowing the #MeToo movement to make the rules and to always be believed in every “he said - she said” situation simply because an accusation is so egregious is dangerous.  Women too have the same desperately sick heart, with the same potential for deceit and wickedness. The #MeToo movement is filled with a lot of stories, may God expose them all for what they truly are.

  • Hans's picture
    Hans
    Posted: Mon, 04/30/2018 12:24 pm

    He was convicted in a court of law by a unanimous jury, not on Twitter by a hashtag. I am not sure why you are fretting about this. Even the Deuteronomic law (as awful as it sometimes is in these matters) errs on the side of believing the woman and executing the man. I think you’d be hard pressed to make Deuteronomy part of the third wave. 

  • John Kloosterman
    Posted: Wed, 05/02/2018 10:28 am

    Okay, but... the jury that convicted him definitely did know a lot more about the case, apparently enough to conclude guilt or innocence.

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