Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon
This BBC documentary is about the multiple rape charges against Bill Cosby that have surfaced in the last 14 years. It begins with a brief summary of Cosby’s stellar career and his former importance as an African Americans role model. The film highlights his unrelenting philanthropy and promotion of African American education, via millions in donations to Black colleges. In 2004, after the Cosby Show ended, he embarked on a series of nationwide tours in which he railed against black mothers for not getting jobs and not caring for their kids properly.
2004: First Rape Allegation
According to people who worked with him closely, Cosby was known for “cheating,” ie engaging in a series of affairs with women he mentored as proteges. However it wasn’t until 2004 that a woman made a serious rape allegation to Philadelphia police. When Philadelphia prosecutors declined to press charges (for lack of evidence), the victim filed a civil lawsuit. Cosby settled in 2006. The details of the settlement, as well as a four-hour deposition Cosby provided under oath were sealed.
As a consequence of the lawsuit, 13 other women approached the victim’s lawyer about their own experience with Cosby “drugging” and raping them. These new complaints received little media attention until BuzzFeed picked up a story about a Black standup comic named Hannibal Burris making rape jokes about Cosby. More women came forward, and women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred arranged a press conference for those willing to speak publicly about their experiences.
Court Unseals Cosby’s 2004 Deposition
This, in turn, led an AP reporter to apply for Cosby’s 2004 sworn deposition to be unsealed. Although Cosby’s lawyers maintained this violated his right to privacy, the judge ruled his years of public “moralizing” negated his right to privacy.
In the deposition, Cosby acknowledged having sex with women he was mentoring and sometimes giving them quaaludes. This, along with dozens of new complaints from women Cosby allegedly abused, gave prosecutors sufficient evidence to proceed with the 2004 rape case.
Cosby’s first trial ended in a hung jury in June 2017. At his re-trial in August 2017, a jury found him guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting his accuser. Cosby is appealing the charge.
YouTube has taken the video down but it can be viewed for free here: