Why Doesn’t Bill Cosby Just Say He Didn’t Do It?
Last week, when I asked Bill Cosby if he had anything to say about the persistent and multiple sexual assault allegations against him, he smiled at me and whispered “no” in my ear. Then on Saturday, NPR’s Weekend Edition ran a new interview with Cosby, during which he refused to talk about the allegations, giving interviewer Scott Simon the silent treatment. But a lot has changed since then.
First, 66-year-old Woodstock resident Joan Tarshis came forward to accuse Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her two times in 1969, when she was a 19-year-old aspiring actress and he had just launched the immensely popular Bill Cosby Show on television.
Then, on Tuesday, former supermodel Janice Dicksinon — by far the most prominent of Cosby’s accusers — told Entertainment Tonight point blank: “I’m certain now that he drugged and raped me.”
Dickinson’s statement was quickly followed by Netflix’s announcement that Cosby’s comedy special, which was scheduled for release the day after Thanksgiving, would be postponed indefinitely, this coming not long after scheduled appearances on David Letterman and Queen Latifah’s television shows didn’t happen. And it sounds like Cosby’s long-planned return to prime time, courtesy of NBC, may be in jeopardy.
All of which makes me wonder: Why doesn’t Cosby just come out and say he didn’t do it?
If Cosby is truly innocent, then given the mounting accusations against him and the apparent toll that they are taking, you’d think the man would want to just say that he never raped, sexually assaulted or otherwise harmed a woman in his life. Instead, he smirks at reporters, gives them the silent treatment, and issues non-denial statements via his Manhattan attorney.
On the other hand, if Cosby is guilty — and this a good time to remind you that he’s never been charged with sexual assault or rape or any other crime for that matter — why not lie and say the same thing? After all, it’s not like there’s a damning video or a seminally tainted blue dress out there. If there were, chances are we would have seen it by now, nearly one decade after the first sexual assault allegations against Cosby surfaced.
Oh, there is no doubt that there is a confidentiality agreement in Cosby’s 2006 settlement with accuser Andrea Constand, especially considering a recent statement on Cosby’s website courtesy of both Cosby’s and Constand’s lawyers, saying that a recent statement made by Cosby’s lawyer was not meant to refer to Constand’s claims. But the chances of that confidentiality agreement precluding Cosby from denying other women’s charges outright — especially women who hadn’t even come forward when that agreement was probably signed — are virtually nil.
“He’s probably getting advice from someone who is telling him to stay out of it,” says prominent Philadelphia attorney Jim Beasley Jr., who disagrees with the notion that Cosby should speak out. “What happened two weeks ago never happened. It will just go away.”
Maybe. But I don’t think so. What was once just an annoying distraction for Cosby has now snowballed into a serious PR problem that puts his reputation, career and legacy in jeopardy.
We may never know for sure whether the accusations are true or false. But one thing we do know is this: If Cosby did an interview with Oprah or 60 Minutes‘ Lesley Stahl, looked them dead in the eye and said, with all of the Bill Cosby charm he could muster, “I didn’t do this,” well, 95% of America would believe him, and likely dismiss the public accusations of six women out of hand. After all, he’s still America’s Dad, a real live American hero.
Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter.