BILL COSBY: INMATE NN7687

America’s favorite TV dad is now inmate number nn7687 after being found guilty of sexual assault. We look at the case and the fallout.

Aired on September 26, 2018. 

TRANSCRIPT

> BILL COSBY, ONCE AMERICA'S DAD, IS NOW A SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATOR WHO WILL SPEND UP TO THE NEXT TEN YEARS IN A MAXIMUM SECURITY PRISON.

THIS WAS THE SCENE AS THE DISGRACED ACTOR WAS LED AWAY IN HANDCUFFS, GUILTY OF DRUGGING AND ASSAULTING ANDREA CONSTAND IN 2004.

COSBY'S MANY ACCUSERS, WAITING FOR MANY YEARS FOR THIS DAY, VOWED THEIR FIGHT IS NOT OVER.

WHILE COSBY SAYS HE WILL APPEAL THE CONVICTION, BECAUSE HE IS A VICTIM OF RACISM AND OF 'SEX WAR GOING ON IN WASHINGTON TODAY.'

THE CASE MARKS THE FIRST HIGH PROFILE CONVICTION SINCE THE ME TOO MOVEMENT CAST A SPOTLIGHT ON STORIES OF SEXUAL ASSAULT, PARTICULARLY THOSE IN HOLLYWOOD.

JOINING ME NOW TO PUT THE VERDICT AND THE SENTENCING INTO PERSPECTIVE IS ATTORNEY AND LEGAL COMMENTATOR B.J.

BERNSTEIN.

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

HI, JENNA.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME AND TALKING ABOUT THIS IMPORTANT TOPIC, BECAUSE WITH THE NEWS WITH THE SUPREME COURT AND WITH COSBY AND WE'RE BOMBARDED WITH THIS, CLARITY IS NEEDED ABOUT WHAT THE LAW IS AND WHAT'S HAPPENING.

THAT IS VERY TRUE.

SINCE YOU JUST MENTIONED THE SUPREME COURT, I DO WANT TO MENTION THAT COSBY'S PR PERSON CAME OUT AND OF THE MANY THINGS THAT HE SAID, HE PUT BILL COSBY'S CASE AND WHAT'S HAPPENING TO BRETT KAVANAUGH, THE ACCUSATIONS THAT HE'S NOW FACING, INTO THE EXACT SAME BOAT.

IS THAT FAIR TO DO?

IT'S GOOD LAWYERING PROBABLY ON HIS POINT, TRYING TO PUT IT ALL TOGETHER.

THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS, THESE ISSUES WE'VE BEEN STRUGGLING WITH FOR A LONG TIME.

THIS CONDUCT IS NOT NEW.

I HAVE BEEN PRACTICING LAW 31 YEARS, AND THESE ISSUES HAVE ALWAYS COME UP IN CASES OF SEXUAL ASSAULT.

AND YOU CAN'T COMPARE IT THAT WAY.

ONE OF THE ISSUES THAT WE'VE SEEN NOW WITH AT LEAST COSBY BEING SENTENCED IS THAT FOR PEOPLE WHO MIGHT STILL HAVE AN EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT TO HIM, OR AT LEAST TO THE CHARACTERS THAT THEY KNEW HIM FROM IN THE '70s AND '80s, IS IT WORTH PUTTING SOMEONE WHO IS ALREADY SO OLD AND SO DISABLED BEHIND BARS AND PUNISHING THEM THIS WAY, WHY WAS THAT NECESSARY FOR THE JUDGE TO DO?

IT WAS NECESSARY, BECAUSE HE WAS CONVICTED OF A SERIOUS FELONY OFFENSE, A SEXUAL OFFENSE THAT THE JUDGE PUT HIM ON THE SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY AS REQUIRED UNDER PENNSYLVANIA LAW.

AND SIT A MANDATORY MINIMUM OF A PERIOD OF TIME OF INCARCERATION WHEN YOU ASSAULT SOMEONE LIKE THIS.

SO THAT -- THE FACT THAT THERE'S A WINDOW HERE OF THREE TO TEN COULD HAVE BEEN HARSHER, PROBABLY DID TAKE INTO ACCOUNT HIS AGE.

BUT IT DIDN'T CHANGE THE FACT THAT A JURY CAME BACK WITH A SERIOUS VERDICT AGAINST HIM.

DOES THE FACT THAT HIS LEGAL TEAM PLANS TO APPEAL MAKE ANY CHANGE OR DIFFERENCE?

WE KNOW HE WENT IMMEDIATELY TO JAIL.

BUT DOES HIS LEGAL TEAM REALLY STAND A CHANCE OF APPEALING AND OVERTURNING THIS CONVICTION?

IT DEPENDS.

THERE ARE ALL THESE SMALL ERRORS.

IN MY APPELLATE WORK, SOMETIMES IT'S NOT THE BIG ISSUE OF GUILT OR INNOCENCE, BUT THE SMALLER DECISIONS MADE ALONG THE WAY.

WAS SOMEBODY STRUCK FROM THE JURY THAT SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN?

WAS AN OBJECTION SUSTAINED THAT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN?

WAS INFORMATION HELD BACK?

I DIDN'T WATCH EVERY DAY OF THE TRIAL, SO I COULDN'T TELL YOU.

BUT I WOULD NEVER TAKE ANYBODY'S APPELLATE RIGHTS AWAY.

WHETHER YOU THINK THEY'RE GUILTY OR NOT, AN APPELLATE OPPORTUNITY IS CRUCIAL FOR EVERYONE, BECAUSE IF SOMEONE IS INNOCENT THAT IS FOUND GUILTY, YOU WANT TO FIND WAYS TO EXONERATE THEM, IF THAT'S THE CASE.

SPEAKING OF WHAT YOU WERE JUST SAYING, ONE OF THE OTHER THINGS I WANT TO HELP PEOPLE UNDERSTAND IS HOW IS IT THAT THIS CASE, WHEN FIRST BROUGHT TO TRIAL, ENDED IN A HUNG JURY AND RETRIED AND ENDS IN CONVICTION.

WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO CASES?

THE MOST BLARING, IN THE INITIAL CASE, ONLY ONE OTHER WOMAN WAS ALLOWED TO TESTIFY.

ANDREA CONSTAND TESTIFIED AND ONE OTHER PERSON.

THE SHIFT IN THE SECOND CASE IS THERE WERE FIVE WOMEN WHO WERE ABLE TO TESTIFY THAT THEY HAD BEEN ASSAULTED BY COSBY AS PART OF A SIMILAR TRANSACTION, SHOWING A PATTERN ON THE PART OF COSBY, OF MANIPULATING WOMEN, GIVING THEM DRINKS, ET CETERA, OR DRUGS.

AND THEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTING THEM.

BUT THAT WAS CERTAINLY A BIG SHIFT IN THE JUDGE'S HANDLING OF THE CASE.

AND A JURY IS DIFFERENT EVERY SINGLE TIME.

IT'S A DIFFERENT GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE DIFFERENT LIFE EXPERIENCES.

AND IN ONE CASE THEY CAN DISAGREE AND IN ANOTHER CASE, A DIFFERENT GROUP OF PEOPLE CAN COME TOGETHER AND HAVE A DIFFERENT VERDICT.

IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME WHEN THERE IS A HUNG JURY AND THE STATE COMES BACK AND TRIES A CASE AGAIN.

WHEN IT COMES TO THE ISSUE OF HOW THE LAW IS HANDLED, THERE'S BEEN SO MUCH TALK, EVEN HERE IN NEW YORK STATE, OF EXTENDING THE STATUTE OF LIMITTATIONS.

THAT SEEMS TO BE ONE OF THE HINDRANCES IN TERMS OF BRINGING CHARGES AND SOME OF THESE OTHER ACCUSATIONS WE'VE BEEN READING ABOUT IN THE NEWS, THAT THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS HAS RUN OUT, SO NOTHING CAN BE DONE.

IS THIS AN ISSUE THAT GETS READDRESSED IN THE WAKE OF THIS RECKONING OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF WOMEN?

I THINK STATUTE OF LIM LIMIT LIMITATIONS, THEY ARE DIFFERENT ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

A LOT OF STATES DO SOMETHING WHERE YOU'RE ONLY -- YOU HAVE UP TO THE AGE OF 18, AND THEN YOU ADD SEVEN YEARS SO THAT BASICALLY BY 26 OR 27, YOU NEED TO HAVE TOLD SOMEONE, YOU CAN'T WAIT UNTIL YOUR 40s OR 50s TO COME FORWARD.

IT'S GOING TO BE A HARD DISCUSSION, BECAUSE THE FLIP SIDE OF IT IS, BY NOT ENCOURAGING PEOPLE AND MAKING IT SAFE FOR THEM TO MAKE ACCUSATIONS EARLIER, YOU DO MISS IMPORTANT EVIDENCE, AND IT'S HARDER TO CONVICT SOMEONE 10, 15, 20 YEARS LATER.

THAT HAPPENED IN COSBY.

THERE WAS A HUNG JURY.

THEY WERE TROUBLED BY THE LENGTH OF TIME THAT WENT BY FROM THESE ALLEGATIONS.

SO ALL OF THIS IS SAYING THAT AS THE COUNTRY -- WE TALK ABOUT SEX, WE HAVE ALL THESE THINGS ABOUT SEX, AND YET WE DON'T TALK ABOUT IT IN TERMS OF THE LAW AND WHAT IT MEANS AND ITS IMPACT.

AND THAT CONVERSATION, ME TOO HAS STARTED A CONVERSATION.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE SUPREME COURT AND KAVANAUGH ON THE OTHER NEW ALLEGATIONS COMING OUT WITH HIM, BRINGS UP MORE ISSUES, AS WELL.

HOW DO YOU DEFEND AGAINST IT IF YOU ARE INNOCENT?

AND HOW ARE YOU PROTECTED TO MAKE SURE THAT SOMEONE IS HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS LATER ON?

AND THEN MOST OF THESE CASES ARE HAPPENING FOR SITUATIONS IN THAT AGE RANGE.

I KNOW WHEN I SEE 15 TO 25 YEARS OLD.

B.J., THANK YOU FOR JOINING US ON THE PROGRAM AND GIVING US THE MUCH-NEEDED LEGAL PERSPECTIVE INTO WHERE THE COSBY CONVICTIONS FITS INTO THIS MUCH LARGER DISCUSSION.

THANKS, JENNA.

THANK YOU.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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