Bill Cosby, Fresh From Trial, Plans Talks on Avoiding Assault Accusations

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[Several versions of this story had to appear in my feed before I realized it wasn't just a bad joke. *RON*]

Graham Bowley & Sophie Haigney, New York Times, 22 June 2017

The Bill Cosby representatives Ebonee M. Benson and Andrew Wyatt appear Wednesday on “Good Day Alabama.” CreditWBRC
Bill Cosby is planning a series of town hall meetings this summer to educate people, including young athletes and married men, on how to avoid accusations of sexual assault, two of his representatives said Wednesday.

The announcement came just days after Mr. Cosby’s trial on sexual assault charges ended in a hung jury and while he is still battling civil suits from other women who say he assaulted them too.

“This issue is bigger than Bill Cosby,” his representative Andrew Wyatt said on “Good Day Alabama,” a show on WBRC Fox 6 in Birmingham.

“This issue can affect any young person — especially young athletes of today,” he continued, “and they need to know what they are facing when they are hanging out and partying, when they are doing certain things they shouldn’t be doing.” Mr. Wyatt said the issue “also affects married men.”

Mr. Wyatt, left, and Ms. Benson, right, with Mr. Cosby outside the Montgomery County courthouse in Norristown, Pa. CreditMatt Rourke/Associated Press
Ebonee M. Benson, who works with Mr. Wyatt and joined him on the program, said the need for awareness had grown because the statutes of limitations on sexual assault have been extended in several states. In some cases the legislative efforts were aided by women who have accused Mr. Cosby of molesting them.Continue reading the main story

“People need to be educated on a brush against the shoulder,” she said. “Anything at this point can be considered sexual assault.”

The Cosby announcement drew immediate rebukes from several quarters, including the anti-sexual violence organization RAINN.

“It would be more useful if Mr. Cosby would spend time talking with people about how not to commit sexual assault in the first place,” said Jodi Omear, an organization spokeswoman.

Kristen Houser of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center said a number of organizations exist that would be far more appropriate choices to lead an educational program on this issue than Mr. Cosby, whom she described as “a person who has 60 allegations of sexual assault against” him.

Gloria Allred, a lawyer who represents several women who have accused Mr. Cosby of assault, said the “workshops appear to be a transparent and slick effort to attempt to influence the jury pool from which jurors will be selected for his second criminal trial.”

One of the town halls will be held in Alabama in July, Mr. Wyatt said on the show. In a later email, he said Mr. Cosby had received “hundreds of calls from civic organizations and churches requesting for Mr. Cosby to speak to young men and women about the judicial system.” He said the program would include a critique of the decision by prosecutors in Pennsylvania to charge him last year.

“Speeches will be free,” Mr. Wyatt said.

Mr. Cosby later thanked the television station for having his publicists on the show. He is currently free on bail while he awaits a retrial of the criminal case in which he is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault in connection with a 2004 encounter with a woman at his home outside Philadelphia. The woman, Andrea Constand, says Mr. Cosby drugged and assaulted her.

Mr. Cosby and his lawyers say the sex was consensual.

The jury deliberated for 52 hours before a mistrial was declared because jurors were hopelessly deadlocked. On Thursday, The Associated Press and a Pittsburgh television station reported that jurors it spoke to had said the panel ended its deliberations almost evenly split between those supporting conviction and acquittal.

That depiction was at odds with that of a juror who spoke to ABC News earlier in the week and had said that 10 members of the panel had voted to convict Mr. Cosby but were unable to persuade two jurors who would not budge.

Some jurors were concerned about the 10-year delay in prosecuting Mr. Cosby, and that politics had been involved, The A.P. reported.

WPXI Channel 11 in Pittsburgh played a recording of a man it said was a juror who said the voting was evenly split.

“Whatever the man did, he has already paid his price, paid, suffered,” the voice in the recording said. “A case that was settled in ’05 and we had to bring it up in ’17.”

On Wednesday, the ABC News report, based on its own conversation with an anonymous juror, said the panel had voted 10-2 to convict Mr. Cosby on two of the three counts.

In one of the juror accounts that surfaced Thursday, the panelist agreed that there had been a 10-2 vote at one point, but said the mood in the room changed in the later hours and was roughly split between those who sought a conviction and those who wanted to acquit Mr. Cosby.

Several jurors contacted by The New York Times have said they are unwilling to speak about their deliberations. In releasing their names Wednesday, Judge Steven T. O’Neill had warned the jurors not to discuss their deliberations.

Mark Roth contributed reporting from Pittsburgh.

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