If you’ve been sexually victimized by anyone at any time, please pay attention to today’s news about Bill Cosby.
“What’s new about Cosby? He’s been in prison for months and will stay there for years, right?”
That’s half right. He’s been incarcerated for sexual assault. But he and his lawyers were just in front of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Their claim: his conviction should be overturned.
And – brace yourself – they might win.
“But my situation is nothing like the Cosby case. Why should I care about this?”
Because the sordid Cosby saga reminds all of us who want to stop sexual violence that WE CAN TAKE NOTHING FOR GRANTED and WE CAN’T ASSUME SOMEONE ELSE HAS OR WILL ‘FIX’ THINGS FOR US.
And because the actions of judges, predators and defense lawyers remind us that
—predators are often incredibly determined
—they often pick and can afford smart lawyers
—the law can be complex and evolving
—the law can be influenced by societal trends and pressures
—a judge or a panel of judges
—some employers do, in fact, hire employees without adequate background checks OR
—believe in ‘redemption’ and ‘forgiveness’ and even hire proven predators.
We could go on and on and on. Our point, quite simply, is that even after someone like Cosby winds up in prison, inaction is inadvisable. Things can change and long prison sentences, wrongly thought to end the danger of re-offending, can be reversed.
So if you haven’t spoke up about your abuse – for any reason – PLEASE RECONSIDER, especially if you’re assuming that your perpetrator isn’t or can’t hurt anyone else.
“But my abuser is now retired.”
That might make it worse, since he now has even more time to groom and abuse.
“My abuser isn’t around kids any more.”
That could change tomorrow when he volunteers at a local school or scout troop or starts offering trumpet lessons out of his apartment.
“My abuser is old and in a wheelchair.”
That kind of disability probably stops a would-be bank robber, but predators usually rely on cunning and manipulation, not physical prowess.
“My abuser has escaped charges in the past.”
That doesn’t guarantee he won’t be charged in the future. (In fact, if anything guarantees he’ll keep evading justice, it’s the silence of those he assaulted.)
“The statute of limitations has expired.”
That’s not necessarily true. Some states have reformed their statutes recently. Some exceptions to the statutes exist. Sometimes a predator can be nailed on other wrongdoing (witness intimidation, evidence destruction, child porn, child endangerment, etc.) besides the original child sex abuse.
“No one will believe me.”
That was once more likely the case. But fortunately – largely because of victims’ courage – society understands childhood trauma much better these days.
“I tried once but didn’t succeed.”
That’s painfully common. But NOT trying again guarantees failure. Maybe now you’ll find other victims, a better sheriff, a smarter lawyer or more allies.
We at Horowitz Law believe that virtually that’s truly valuable happens in one magic move. If there IS ANY single best step or solution that MOST effectively protects the vulnerable, it is this: when every victim who can speak up does speaks up (even if the predator has been extensively ‘outed’ in the media or even convicted).
So again, please reconsider your silence. And please forward this to anyone you know who was hurt (or you suspect may have been hurt) and remains silent.
(If you’re interested in the actual legal arguments in the Cosby case, they’re fairly straightforward. Cosby claims that his trial judge let too many of his victims testifying, thus unfairly prejudicing the jury against him. Prosecutors, on the other hand, argue that the other victims who took the stand basically showed a similar and thus relevant ‘pattern and practice’ of predation by Cosby.)