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into the light - peter kahrmann

Cosby Accusers Victimized Yet Again

By Peter S. Kahrmann

The chance that all 47 women, to date, who’ve come forward to claim that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them are lying is zero as far as I’m concerned. I believe the chance that even one of them is lying is zero.

As a victim of violent crime myself, I was held up and shot in the head in 1984. As a co-founder and former board member of the New York City chapter of Victims for Victims, a nonprofit group created to help crime victims, I think it safe to say that I’ve met more survivors of rape -- female and male -- than the average man.

That the statutes of limitations currently make it impossible for Cosby to be criminally prosecuted is disgraceful. I am well aware that the passage of time makes successful convictions a steeper climb. But if the summit represents justice, it is a climb worth making.

It is important to know that when someone is being victimized, the loss of control over the sanctity of one’s body and the preservation of one’s life is pulverizing. As a result, the “It can’t happen to me” syndrome, a normal psychological form of life management, is demolished -- permanently. One of the challenges survivors invariably face is finding a way to give themselves permission to take part in life again, knowing that traumas like the ones they’ve managed to survive can happen again.

To be publicly victimized again by one’s assailant or the assailant’s representatives is nothing less than moral savagery. It is yet another part of what crime victims call the second victimization, an experience too often endured at the hands of the justice and health-care systems and, in some cases, the media as well.

Nowhere is this second victimization more in evidence than the sexual assault arena.

Cosby, through his representatives, has called his accusers liars and, in doing so, deepened the wounds these women are trying to heal. If guilty of what he’s been accused of -- and I believe he is -- it’s clear that he doesn’t respect women and doesn’t care about wounding them again. If one disrespects the sanctity of a human being to such a degree that he can drug and rape them, it should come as no surprise that he victimizes them again and again and again. Misogyny is a form of hate, and hate is lethal to any real morality.

Cosby’s lawyer, George M. Gowen III, attempted to block the release of his client’s sworn testimony in Andrea Constand’s 2005 lawsuit against the comedian by claiming that, “It would be terribly embarrassing for this material to come out.” That’s about as shaky – and lame -- an excuse as one could muster.

Given that Cosby’s testimony included his admission that yes, he gave Quaaludes to young women he wanted to have sex with, I suspect that he is dealing with a bit more than embarrassment right now. You need no more than the intelligence of a gnat to understand why Cosby’s attorney stopped him from answering the question “Did you ever give any of these young women the Quaaludes without their knowledge?”

Thankfully, U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno rejected Cosby’s argument and unsealed his testimony. In fact, Robreno cut right to the heart of things when he said, “Why would he be embarrassed by his own version of the facts?”

I strongly suspect that more women have been victimized by Cosby than the 47 brave ones who’ve come forward to date. It is my hope that somewhere, somehow, Cosby will face a jury of his peers, and then, maybe, justice will be done.

Peter Kahrmann writes a blog on disability issues. He resides in Massachusetts.

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