Bill Cosby’s wife, Camille Cosby, has been deposed and will be forced to answer questions against her husband in court next month, despite her lawyers arguing that she has no information that would be relevant to any lawsuit and that all conversations between her and Bill Cosby are confidential.
Previously, Camille has said that she “doesn’t believe her husband is a rapist”, because in her opinion, the alleged victims voluntarily took drugs and any sex was “consensual”.
According to various reports, Camille is angry because she had warned her husband to be more “discreet” and the extensive media coverage concerning his ‘infidelity’ has “humiliated” her. Camille has also stated that Bill Cosby “doesn’t deserve jail time” although she is glad at “the hell he is going through” for having “cheated” on her.
So exactly how many more women are going to need to come forward to convince Bill Cosby’s wife that mere infidelity is not the issue here, and that as humiliating as it might be to have an unfaithful partner, this is nothing compared to the pain and trauma caused to the alleged victims?
Already, at least 55 women have come forward with allegations of sexual assault.
As The Daily News pointed out earlier this year, this isn’t a “he said, she said” case. It’s more like a ‘he said-she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said.’
Yet despite this staggering number of complaints, Cosby’s camp continues to deny the allegations, insisting that they are false.
So for the sake of argument, what, exactly, are the odds that someone would be falsely accused of rape not once or twice, but 55 times in a row- as the Cosby camp seems to assert?
According to the FBI and Department of Justice, on an annual basis the odds that any given straight man in the U.S will be falsely accused of just one rape are 2.7 million to 1.
That means that in a given year, a person is 129 times more likely to be murdered in the US (21,000 to 1 odds), than falsely accused of a single rape.
Now as unlikely as it is to be falsely accused of a single rape, the odds of being falsely accused of two rapes in the same year are even rarer: 7,290,000 million to 1.
To put that figure in context, not only are you 25 thousand times more likely to win the US Powerball Jackpot (292 million to 1 odds), but in a given year, you are also about 73 times more likely to be seriously injured by a falling space satellite, than falsely accused of two rapes.
So if those odds are already vanishingly rare, what are the odds then that a man would be falsely accused of 55 sexual assaults all at once?
The number is so ridiculous the human brain cannot comprehend it. (For the maths nerds among us, it’s 530 893 036 283 992 866 768 804 953 022 662 713 964 379 317 549 379 870 703 751 621 952 509 256 231 384 300 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 to 1 odds.)
To put that figure in perspective, a person is more likely to win the US Powerball Jackpot, not once or twice, but 41 times in a row, in back to back wins, than be falsely accused of that many rapes.
A person also has better odds of travelling to the Sahara desert, marking a single grain of sand with an “x”, and returning a year later with a blindfold on, picking up a single grain at random, and finding that it’s the exact same one they picked up last time.
Of course to Cosby’s lawyers, these odds mean nothing because Cosby is a celebrity and thus the charges against him must be “politically motivated”. (Even if celebrities are sometimes magnets for vexatious law suits, you’ve got to admit those odds would have to make him the unluckiest SOB alive).
So why does Camille still stand by his side? Why do wives and partners of alleged serial rapists continue to support them despite an avalanche of snowballing evidence against them?
The answer is complicated, and it has nothing to do with logic or rationality.
In my experience there are a number of reasons why this happens. Very often, (alleged) sexual offenders are extraordinarily manipulative, controlling individuals. And they don’t just manipulate their victims, they also manipulate the networks they are a part of. In many cases they may bend the facts to make out that they are the real victim, and it is not uncommon that their supporters will be seduced into believing this. As Camille wrote in one of her most deeply problematic statements:
“There appears to be no vetting of my husband’s accusers before stories are published or aired… We all followed the story of the article in the Rolling Stone concerning allegations of rape at the University of Virginia. The story was heart-breaking, but ultimately appears to be proved to be untrue. Many in the media were quick to link that story to stories about my husband—until that story unwound. None of us will ever want to be in the position of attacking a victim. But the question should be asked—who is the victim?”
Who is the victim? Camille asks this as though her and her husband are the true victims in this matter. As though publicly declaring yourself to be a survivor of rape is a walk in the park. As though the 55 women- many of whom stand to gain absolutely nothing because of the statute of limitation laws- are just out to ‘cause trouble’. It’s beyond ludicrous. It’s outright offensive.
Of course another reason why family and friends sometimes stick by accused sexual perpetrators is that it is simply easier to believe that a woman you don’t know is lying than to believe that a man you love and care about could do something so unforgivable.
After all, not only does our society teach us to value a man’s word over a woman’s word (and the word of a friend, over the word of a stranger), but admitting that someone you know could be guilty of such a heinous crime is completely destabilising because it also means that the your own judgment and ability to asses who is trustworthy is fundamentally flawed.
This is why many people will simply deny what’s occurred, rather than contemplate the enormity of the alleged crime.
Finally, despite decades of public awareness, some people still don’t understand what a rapist looks like. All too many people continue to assume that if someone is charming and affable in one context- or if he gives money to charity, or plays a great game of golf, or can tell a good joke- then he couldn’t possibly be guilty of forcing or coercing someone into unwanted sex. The reality is very different. In fact research shows that many rapists are extremely charming, and this is precisely how they get their victims to drop their guard (women, by and large, do not accept dates, or drinks, or lifts home from men who act shady. They are far more likely to accept these things from men who look and act charming, and this is precisely how rapists are able to lower a woman’s defences).
NBC New discusses Camille Cosby’s 2014 statement:
It’s understandable why so many people want to hear from Camille Cosby. They want to know how deep the deception goes. They want to know if and what she knew.
But in soliciting the opinions of wives/ girlfriends/ family/ friends of alleged rapists, we need to remember that not only are these people likely to be extremely biased in their views (and in many cases they will also have been manipulated by the alleged perpetrator), but unless they were actually in the room when the alleged rape occurred, or unless they have material evidence to present, then soliciting their opinion is really only an attack on the victim’s credibility.
We should remember that in coming weeks, as Camille gives evidence. We should remember, too, the unlikely odds, that any man –including a celebrity- would have 55 sexual assault accusations made against him simultaneously.
Because this isn’t about a jilted wife’s hurt feelings. It’s about something exponentially bigger than that. It’s about justice.