You lost me, Bill…and it hurts

Published 1:05 pm Sunday, July 12, 2015

The admission by comedian Bill Cosby that he drugged women for sex revealed in unsealed court documents made public this week has now given even the most optimistic nay-sayers – like ‘yours truly’ – pause.

It’s also tarnished the ‘Fat Albert” man’s reputation, likely beyond repair.

For decades, Cosby was America’s buddy (I Spy, for those of us old enough to remember), then as America’s dad and maybe finally as America’s granddad (in all those Cosby shows that cast him as everything from a P.E. teacher to a doctor to a professor).  Sometime he was even a moral lightning rod who didn’t mince words with tough talk for young people about acting responsibly. Yes, young men – pull your pants up!

Maybe it was just that image that proved to be his undoing.

The judge who unsealed those documents where Cosby admitted in 2005 that he obtained Quaaludes to give to young women before sex cited Cosby’s own public moralizing in deciding to release the sealed testimony.  Answers came forth that were made from a decade-old lawsuit that called into question Cosby’s denials that he drugged and sexually assaulted women.

Cosby was a Jackie Robinson of his time: the first to successfully cross the color line in his field—initially nightclub comedy, and later network TV where he carried on the struggle for racial equality and civil rights literally into the country’s living rooms. Add the Jell-O commercials and it catapulted him into one of the most revered performers of the last half-century.

As leader of that loveable Huxtable clan back in the ‘80s, Cosby was the “everyman father” who did things right; a persona that made him beloved – and also rich.

His benevolence is legendary. Stories abound of how he and wife Camille offered millions in donations to colleges and other institutions across the country, including $20 million to Spelman College in 1988. He also freely gave advice and opinions on society’s failings, which weren’t welcomed as much as the money.

When his son, Ennis, was murdered in 1997, the country mourned with him. I’ll always remember him standing outside his New York City townhouse, addressing reporters, and in some way eulogizing his son through his grief with four simple words.

“He was my hero.”

So were you to me, Cos.  I trusted, I believed, I doubted.  Now, I don’t feel ashamed as much as used.  I could understand NBC, TV Land and Netflix dropping your shows and show ideas, but when BET (Black Entertainment Television) and BOUNCE (both new mediums aimed primarily at black audiences) start to walk away then you know you’ve lost some of your most ardent supporters.

I don’t know how many other minds have been changed by this latest news; at least comedian Whoopi Goldberg on the daytime TV show, “The View” isn’t one of them.

While I can’t believe all of those ladies are telling the truth, I never believed all of them were lying either.

One of his accusers claimed she never came forward with her accusation because, “I didn’t want to let black America down”.

Cosby, in my mind, has let all of America down. Rape is not a dismissible matter because of time, circumstance, and the statute of limitations. These revelations show that those women who accused the man of assaulting them have a voice. Violence against women is wrong.

I stood in defense of a man I laughed with, cried with, and held onto hope with.

Now I feel like I was wrong.

Gene Motley is a Staff Writer with Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7211.