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Cross-Border Criminal Law: Comment About My Appearance on CBC National News Re: Cosby Sentencing Hearing

Special thanks and acknowledgment to CBC for the image posted, above, of Bill Cosby.

So, yesterday I was privileged to appear on the televised CBC National News in Toronto; later on, I also appeared on CBC Radio in Quebec City.  The topic was the same; the sentencing hearing of Bill Cosby.  The former’s anchor, Andrew Nichols, conducted his typical, substantive interview (a similar interview was conducted by the later radio host).  We discussed a range of topics surrounding the sentencing hearing, from the scope of the prison sentence, to the ability of the prison system to care for elderly and infirm inmates, to the denial of post-sentence bond pending appeal (something I refer to as supersedeas bond).

Andrew Nichols and I also discussed the impact on the established victim, Andrea Constand, of the conviction and sentence — and upon other victims of sexual violence, whether or not involving Bill Cosby.  And the honest truth is that there is no way to determine whether this sentence delivers any vindication to Constand or anyone else.  This is a deeply personal matter for people victimized by such an ordeal — each reaction will be different.

The question arose as to whether having someone of Cosby’s now-former stature being sent to prison has a greater impact, a greater significance to the methods where the system addresses allegations of sexual violence.  And, again, my honest answer was “I don’t know.”  Further, without trying to sound too cynical, I doubt that this case will deliver a greater significance — that it will somehow signify a ‘sea change.’  It likely will not.

Indeed, if we look to Washington, DC, and click on right-wing media, we see not the vindication of possible victims of sexual violence — rather, we are witnessing the vilification/demeaning of them by the individual currently occupying the White House.  That undoubtedly amoral individual is likely the last person in any moral position to demean and dehumanize victims of sexual violence.  Yet, we have seen this happen throughout the past couple of years — the upending of truth and the berating of people fighting for recognition of truth.  A good example of this occurred during the Presidential campaign, when my good friend, New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, became the subject of Mr. Trump’s character attacks and scorn.

Listen, I have viewed these cases from multiple perspectives — as dedicated defense counsel from those accused of such offenses … and from the perspective of those who stand forward as victims.  I have seen people whom I believe falsely accused, and I have seen circumstances — like those involving Mr. Cosby and Judge Kavanaugh — where there are perceptibly legitimate victims whose courage and pain are recognized by some, but too-often devalued and dismissed but others.  I can also provide that, as recounted on the CBC interview — publicly, for the first time — I am in a special position to acknowledge and understand the underlying issues preventing another victim from immediately speaking out regarding decades-old sexual violence.

Yesterday, Mr. Cosby was sentenced for his convicted offenses.  He was provided with a fair trial — where he was fortunate to have the necessary resources to retain exceptional defense counsel and experts.  He was found guilty under the law — and will now appeal issues that may have arisen during pretrial, trial and sentencing.  Many in Mr. Cosby’s position — whether actually innocent or guilty — are not so fortunate to be blessed with extraordinary resources and legal talent, and able to robustly defend their innocence against prosecution.  Mr. Cosby will go to prison; at the age of 81, he will face the institutional difficulties of those of advanced age and with preexisting medical conditions.  He is being punished.  I hope that Ms. Constand and the other asserted victims of Mr. Cosby are able to attain some relief … some consolation.  However, this one isolated, albeit high-profile case, will not mark a new era.

September 27, 2018:  Adding link to rough transcript of CBC National News Appearance:  https://newsdaily.today/bill-cosby-sentenced-to-3-to-10-years-in-state-prison-2/.

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