…says my friend Whoopi Goldberg. In defending Bill Cosby, she stated, “The bottom line is, that’s the law.” She added,”Innocent until proven guilty.” In illustrating the importance of due process, Whoopi highlighted the 2006 Duke lacrosse case, where three Duke lacrosse team members were falsely accused of rape.
In response, I say, “Whoopi, you are right.” Legally, every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law. That includes Bill Cosby. The question is whether every person who is “legally innocent” is actually/factually innocent. The answer is “no.” There are numerous reasons why someone who committed an offense may never be brought to criminal court and/or convicted. One reason is that the evidence is insufficient, in spite of the person’s guilt. As we have all learned from many high profile cases resulting in acquittals, the Criminal Justice System is less about truth and more about what can be proven. “Proof beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt” is a very high burden for prosecutors to reach. As a result, many cases aren’t brought by prosecutors due to proof problems and not because of a person’s innocence. Additionally, some cases aren’t brought in the criminal arena because of problems with the Statue of Limitations. That’s the only reason why Cosby hasn’t been yet stripped of his liberty, in spite of approximately 40 separate accusers and his admission in sworn testimony from his 2005 civil suit. Prosecutors believe he is guilty and most folks who are being intellectually honest also believe he isn’t Snow White innocent.
Regarding her opinion about Cosby, Whoopi has also stated, “So, don’t come after me like that, ’cause I’m sick of this bull.” She added: “Here’s the bottom line, for me: It’s my opinion. And the American courts agree with me, because still he has not been taken to jail or trial on anything. So, back off me!” To those remarks, I say, “Well Whoopi, you are right, in part.” People should back off if they are personally attacking you or threatening to do violence to you. What makes this country great is that everyone is entitled to their opinion. As a free society, we should encourage a free flow of ideas and agree to respectfully disagree with those whose opinions differ from ours. However, what I do disagree with is the portion of her remarks which seem to erroneously suggest that Cosby is actually innocent because he was never taken to jail or placed on trial. That hasn’t happened solely because of the Statute of Limitations.