He was nicknamed “America’s Dad” – how scary is that? Yet again we have the misfortune to watch another celebrity/icon take a very long and scandalous fall from grace with a list of those he victimized getting longer by the day.
How many more examples do we need before breaking-the-silence is in and victim-blaming is out? How much longer are people going to hold onto the notion that rape and sexual assault only happen at night in dark alleys by an unknown assailant? And can we PLEASE stop judging the likelihood of criminal acts based upon who the perpetrator is and who the victim is? http://www.patriotledger.com/article/20141128/NEWS/311299980/0/SEARCH (Thank you, Wendy Murphy!)
I guess “the good news” is that we’re actually hearing more and more about crimes like these – whether committed by sports hero/legends, clergy, four-star generals or “beloved” celebrities – so may-be the tide is turning, if only that victim-survivors are finally believing that they have nothing to be ashamed about! (And this despite the judgmental glares, disbelieving stares and social distancing that all too often accompanies disclosures of abuse and violations.)
Like the Penn State scandal, someone knew the comedian wasn’t doing appropriate things with the girls and this witness even referred to these women as “kids”! http://www.onenewspage.com/n/US/750q0zdqz/Former-NBC-Employee-Claims-He-Helped-Bill-Cosby.htm Tragically for these women (and all the ones who were to come after) even though this witness felt bad enough for the victims to quit his job, he didn’t feel badly enough to go to the police with what he knew. PLEASE take a moment here to reflect on what would have happened and what could have been avoided had this one witness stepped forward once he knew something wrong was going on.
Unlike the Penn State scandal, the comedian wasn’t bringing his victims into the home he shared with his wife so it’s uncertain at this point as to how much she knew/didn’t know. If the old adage is true –
The wife is always the last to know
this is going to be one of the hardest and most painful holiday seasons ever for the comedian’s wife, children and grandchildren. Just look at how much hurt, harm and damage this one man has brought to so many innocent people who looked up to, believed in and trusted him – such a sad, sad shame… (For those who might attribute some blame to the women who were “chasing after fame”, being sexually assaulted is not even remotely a “just dessert” – NO ONE ever “deserves” to be raped or sexually assaulted for anything she or he does!)
What’s also a shame is that this wasn’t brought to light sooner, especially considering the pattern reported by the victim-survivors: being given a pill/pills before being raped.
And now for insult to injury: for most (if not all) of the victims the chance to do anything legally about the crime committed against them is most likely long gone thanks to the Statute of Limitations.
The amount of time to initiate and pursue legal action for a crime is called the Statute of Limitations which varies by state. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/statute-of-limitations-state-laws-chart-29941.html Sexual assault would fall under the “Injury” category which averages a mere two-year window in most states, meaning that the victim (or party acting on the victim’s behalf, like the Prosecutor’s Office) only has a two-year time-frame to file a lawsuit or the chance for justice for that particular crime is gone.
Two years isn’t much time at all when you factor in things like crime-related trauma or incident-related incapacity, but a handful of states have it worse with only one-year limitations! To better understand Hawaii’s Statute of Limitations, see the attached You Tube video that explains it all rather nicely and succinctly.
Hawaii’s Statute of Limitations got attention earlier this month when it was announced that 15 – 20 sex assault/rape cases were dismissed due to the Statute of Limitations expiration in each of those cases. http://khon2.com/2014/11/18/concerns-grow-after-prosecutor-reveals-dismissal-of-sex-assault-cases/ Like the comedian’s victims, what a tragic shame for those victim-survivors and how scary for the rest of us.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that when a crime is committed and accepted for prosecution, the victim of the crime is not “in charge” of the case – the victim is actually a witness for the Prosecution – so the Prosecutor is not “working for” the victim; actually, it feels like the other way around.
For the victim’s part, being a witness for the Prosecution is no fun. On one hand, the victim is waiting for justice but is dependent upon his/her Prosecutor to achieve that for him/her and worse – that justice can only come from confronting the person whose victimized him/her in court if the accused doesn’t Plea Deal out. So on one hand you badly want your justice but on the other, it means having to face the person who victimized you and repeat in humiliating detail what he/she did to you.
If this is a victim’s first time working with the Prosecutors Office, he/she might not know what to expect (even though you’re given a nifty flow chart “explaining” it all) and if the Prosecutor isn’t blowing up the victim’s phone, an “I’ll just wait until you call” attitude can easily settle in where the victim believes that “it’s all being taken care of” at the Prosecutor’s end.
If you’ve survived a crime, the Statute of Limitations is typically not one of the things on the forefront of your mind which is why it’s so important for other people to keep it on the forefront of theirs. While I understand that the Statute of Limitations is in-place to help ensure justice, more times than not, all it seems like is a window of opportunity for a perpetrator to get away scot-free with a crime. Rape is a crime that is no less offensive after any period of time so if a rapist showed no regard for fairness or the victim’s rights before and during the crime, WHY do we place such a high regard on fairness and for the rights of the rapist after the crime?
Because the privacy/confidentiality of the 15 – 20 accused are protected AND because our system is a responsive (vs. a preventive) one, we’ll never know if the crimes committed were “one time deals” or – like the comedian – just one of many in a serial rapist’s career. Thanks to the Statute of Limitations and the freedom from prosecution it affords, “America’s dad” and 15 – 20 others (who could be “great guys” just like him) may have escaped man’s justice – but no one escapes God’s.