Mon | Dec 5, 2016

Cosby fan Patria-Kaye Aarons betrays raped women everywhere

Published:Wednesday | December 3, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Patria-Kaye Aarons plants a wet one on Bill Cosby. - Contributed
Peter Levy
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Peter Levy, Guest Columnist

I found Patria-Kaye Aarons' column 'I molested Bill Cosby' disturbing to read, and the picture of the writer planting "a wet one" on Cosby's cheek disturbing to look at.

More specifically, I found her willingness to put that picture out there disturbing to contemplate. Ms Aarons clearly has the courage of her convictions. I believe the degree of her courage considerably outstrips the quality of her convictions.

In telling the story of that encounter four years ago, Ms Aarons states, "I'm a big fan." Not "I was a big fan." Just in case we mistakenly thought that the picture was intended to be ironic.

The problem is that in order to remain a big fan, you have to be willing to ignore the 17 women who have been publicly saying, over a period of nine years, that Cosby raped them. I find that willingness disturbing.

Ms Aarons cites the precept that persons should be considered innocent until proven guilty. That is a legal standard that applies when the agents of the State are seeking to convict a citizen of a crime. If we were to apply it in other contexts, we should allow meter readers on to our premises without identification.

Weighty Allegations

Cosby's loss of business opportunities is not a function of his guilt or innocence, so much as it is the weight of the allegations - their remarkable consistency; the number of women who have come forward; the fact that other than Andrea Constand, none of the women who have come forward have sued Cosby; the fact that Cosby settled the case with Constand; the fact that his lawyers issued a blanket denial of all rape allegations and then the next day amended it to exclude the Constand case from the denial (RED FLAG!!!).

In the face of this, could a responsible media executive go ahead with a high-visibility project featuring Cosby? Would we want to live in a world in which he or she would do so?

Ms Aarons refers to unproven 50-year-old accusations. The accusations actually cover each decade from the 1960s to the 2000s.

Ms Aarons finds the sources of the allegations not credible, referring to websites that report on UFO sightings. Apart from the fact that the Washington Post, the New York Daily News, and Entertainment Tonight are among the media that have investigated and reported on this story, the ultimate source of the allegations is the testimony of the women themselves.

The websites and media are merely telling their stories. Believe them or don't, but do so on their own merits. And own the fact that when you question their credibility, you are potentially saying to rape victims: "Shut up. I don't believe you."

Ms Aarons invokes the spectre of false accusations "by women scorned" as a factor. Even if you can believe the old canard that it is common for women to submit themselves to the unpleasantness of a hostile law-enforcement and judicial environment in order to make a false accusation, what evidence is there that any of the 16 women in question fit the description of "women scorned" by Cosby?

And if they were "scorned", and presumably acting out of pique and anger, how to explain their inaction for so long? That behaviour seems much more consistent with the theory that they felt powerless and voiceless, than that they are suddenly acting out of a sense of being "scorned".

No Physical Evidence

Ms Aarons says Cosby deserves his day in court. That day is unlikely to come, since even in states like New York, where there is no statutory time limitation for rape, without physical evidence, the prosecution is unlikely to believe that they can meet the standard required for a criminal conviction.

I don't know whether Cosby did the things of which he's been accused. I think each of us takes in the information that's available, and forms our best judgement on the range of likely explanations. Ms Aarons has done so. But to so steadfastly remain in Cosby's fan club? I find that a little disturbing.

However, there is one statement by Ms Aarons with which I completely agree. She says that her refusal to "jump the gun and write off Bill" doesn't diminish her empathy for the women who have come forward. To quote a different Bill, "Nothing from nothing leaves nothing."

Peter Levy is an insurance professional, a husband, and the father of three children. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and pdlevy@gmail.com.