Women are coming forward to accuse Bill Cosby of unwanted sexual advances on an almost daily basis. A Friday report in USA TODAY details the latest accusations. The first one is a registered nurse named Therese Serignese who claims she was drugged and raped in the same horrific way as many others have recalled. The other accuser of the day is Carla Ferrigno, wife of bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno, who has recounted an unwanted kiss at a get-together at Cosby’s house. Since the “unwanted kiss” stories are starting to surface, could this mean we are finally to the end of the daily rape stories?
Since the statute of limitations has already run, there are no criminal investigations to be done on these alleged rapes from long ago. Because of the sheer number of the women speaking out, any woman coming forward feels vindicated in advance for whatever she may decide to reveal. Despite the strength in numbers and the confirmation it seems to provide, it also creates a unique scenario where people can easily and freely make serious accusations with little to lose. It is truly sad that these complaints were not made public many years ago.
It is truly easy to understand why these women did not come forward earlier. Many were possibly quite intimidated by the powerful nature of their alleged attacker. There also may have been the occasional out-of-court settlement that kept them quiet. But, what stands out more starkly than anything as you peruse the various accounts is the poor judgment that was exercised in most of the situations on the part of the accuser. At the time of many of these alleged rapes, there was little understanding of the concept of “date rape” where the woman had willingly put herself in a situation that resulted in rape. So, she might have been less likely to come forward in a timely fashion.
The public has been very skeptical of many of these stories for that very reason. The women often agreed to go to some secluded location with Bill Cosby, a married man. In the 1980s, this would have been much more scandalous than it is now, but the online comments often still seem to blame the women for allowing themselves to be in a bad situation. Most shockingly, some of the women seemed willing to take whatever medication he handed them. Here is a quote from the above article regarding Therese Serignese.
After the show she claims she was escorted back to the green room, where Cosby held out two white pills and a glass of water, saying, “Here, take these.” She did.
Some of the women coming forward have actually had other willing encounters with their accused rapist in the years following, although not all have done so. Even Carla Ferrigno may have shown poor judgment in her encounter with Cosby because she was there at his house with a man she had met at the airport!
So, taking this into consideration, how do we make sense of these stories? There is no clear-cut answer for that. Obviously, Bill Cosby’s status in the hearts of his fans is forever sullied, regardless. The ever-rising crowd of witnesses seems to guarantee that. However, it is important to note that these women truly have nothing to lose by coming forward, except admitting their own lack of scruples in the initial encounter. No agencies or investigators will check their stories. Technically, Bill Cosby could sue them for defamation, but that would open him up to their inquiries, too, giving them their day in court after the fact.
So, what do they have to gain? Of course, they may have carried these memories all of their adult lives and just want to get it out in the open. Justice may be their reason for speaking out, although the chance for criminal justice is long gone. It will be interesting to see if the women have some kind of financial gain from their stories through books or appearances. It is just an all-around strange and unexpected news story that has caught the world off guard. We just want it to be over.