Everyday Encounter with God

Pastor Sylvia's Encounters with God in the Midst of Everyday Life


Bill Cosby’s Mistrial – Justice or Mercy?

Husband was shocked when I announced this week that I support Bill Cosby’s sexual assault case ending in a mistrial. He knows how passionately I feel that sex offenders must be brought to justice. He also knows why I have followed this particular case with focused attention.

So why would I be pleased with a mistrial rather than a guilty verdict?

Bill Cosby is one of the world’s best-known and beloved entertainers. After the nationally divisive Viet Nam War he taught us how to laugh again. During the racially tense 60’s and 70’s he crossed ethnic boundaries. Bill Cosby used good, clean humor to give white Americans a reason to like black Americans. Those bridges continue to strengthen today.  

It’s very hard not to like someone who made you laugh so hard your face hurt. Everyone loved Bill Cosby.

Sexual assault allegations started in the 1980’s. Dozens of women accused him of drugging and forcing them. Some were just teenagers. They were not believed. Why? Because it would require that people change their opinion of Bill Cosby. The detectives, attorneys, prosecutors, and the public in general would have to quit laughing long enough to see a darker side of the entertainer they loved.

I became personally interested in this case a few years ago when I was marketing my book, “Laura and Me – An Offender and Victim Search Together to Understand, Forgive, and Heal.” A radio station in Illinois put me on a panel with one of the Cosby victims. Her name didn’t mean much to me at the time. Andrea Constand. The topic was recovery from sexual abuse.

Based on my own experience and the women I’ve listened to and prayed with over the years, I believe Andrea Constand. She filed her first lawsuit against Cosby in 2004, almost 20 years after the incidents. The moderator asked why she waited so long.

“Two reasons. First, I was only 17-years old. I wasn’t even sure that what he did to me was illegal back then. And second, when I tried to file charges, no one believed me. He was Bill Cosby: American Dad Cliff Huxtable and the Jell-O spokesman. Eventually I had to move on with my life.”

Recently more women have come forward with the same story.

Finally, Andrea Constand has had her day in court. After six days of intense deliberations— longer than the combined time the defense and prosecution spent presenting their cases—the judge declared a mistrial Saturday. They could not reach a unanimous verdict on the charges.

So why am I content with that result?

Andrea Constand courageously stood up and told the truth, a huge step for an assault survivor. When our paths briefly intersected, she had learned (1) we are not defined by the bad things people do to us, (2) healing is the product of forgiveness, not the other way around, (3) and our personal value is defined in our relationship with God, not by other people. Andrea chose to move on and excel.

Now, as for Bill Cosby... I’ve watched the news, tabloids, talk shows, and sitcoms. He is a broken man. Cosby has aged at an accelerated rate during the legal process. Everything he valued has been stripped away: employability and national respect. No one is laughing anymore. He is almost 80 years old and for the remainder of his life Cosby will pay for his crimes in the public’s shaming derision.

Prison wouldn’t take away anything meaningful that Bill Cosby hasn’t already lost.

“Godliness helps people all through life, while the evil are destroyed by their wickedness.” (Proverbs 13:6)