Tag Archives: #RapeCulture

Bill Cosby- What’s Next?

Watching the latest Cosby show, his appeal hearing in front of Pennsylvania’s highest court, you’d think that rape was a legal-ease, hair splitting triviality, rather than a defiling, premeditated, vicious cruelty.

On December first, the attorneys for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and for Bill Cosby’s defense, presented their positions to Pennsylvania’s seven Supreme Court Justices; Thomas G. Saylor, Debra Todd, Max Baer, Kevin M. Dougherty, Christine Donohue, David N. Wecht, and Sallie Updyke Mundy, to decide Cosby’s fate. He is appealing his Aggravated Indecent Assault conviction which was previously upheld by a lower appeals court

First Basis for Appeal-

Cosby’s defense attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, argued that Cosby had been granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for not exercising his right to plead “the fifth” in the civil case brought by Andrea Constand, a victim he lured to his home under the guise of “mentorship,” in order to drug and sexually assault her. In his civil case deposition, Cosby testified that he slipped Constand Benadryl, that he had several prescriptions for Quaaludes that he intended for sex targets, and was unaware if Constand had consented.

No evidence or document exists to support that such an immunity agreement actually existed. In fact, the only written document regarding immunity was an article published back then in the National Enquirer.

Contrary to Cosby’s assertion that District Attorney Bruce Castor gave him full immunity from prosecution, the actual 2005 article quotes Castor as having said that the commonwealth “retains the right to reopen the case if the need arises.” The Commonwealth’s attorney, Robert Fallin, reminded the seven Supreme Court justices that such language was customary in all immunity agreements.

During the civil action, Cosby was questioned, and did not plead the fifth, regarding additional bad acts he conducted in other jurisdictions, where Castor had absolutely no control. The fact that Cosby only spoke under the belief that he would not be prosecuted, when in fact he spoke candidly about events in locations without a promise of immunity, additionally belies the defense’s argument. Time will tell whether the present justices will acknowledge the weight of these facts. Their decision could take several weeks.

Second Basis for Appeal-

Bonjean claimed the prosecution’s introduction of five witnesses to establish Cosby’s consistent nonconsensual sexual conduct unfairly tainted his character in the eyes of the jury. The judges questioned whether their testimony elicited a conviction based on a character assault, rather than the commission of a crime…. thereby rendering the trial “unfair.”

The Judges React-

What followed was word salad from the justices, splitting hairs over how similar the additional cases were and whether they contained probative value rather than a smear campaign. Justice Christine Donohue said. “I just don’t see it.” and Justice Max Baer remarked, “I tend to agree that the evidence was extremely prejudicial.”

Assistant District Attorney Adrienne Jappe, for the prosecution, argued that because “consent” was in question, prior claims that assaults without consent had taken place were needed to prove Cosby’s pattern of sequestering young women and stripping them of their defenses by administering drugs.

Giving Cosby a pass because he committed multiple bad acts only serves to enlighten society that conducting serial crimes can cause dismissal, while an individual crime would not. The additional irony is how rarely offenders who commit individual sexual assaults are brought to justice.

Pennsylvania’s law says…..

Under 225 Pa. Code § 404, (b) (2) prior bad-act witnesses can be used to prove motive, opportunity, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or lack of accident.

The justices questioned the validity of arguing the “absence of mistake,” and seemed to be siding with the defense by asking “Where do we draw the line? How many witnesses would be too much?”

Ms. Jappe aptly responded with case histories in which testimony by multiple “prior bad-act” witnesses was admitted. The justices seemed to overlook that the additional witnesses proved Cosby’s planning, preparation, and knowledge of the crime.

Neither the trial judge, Steven O’Neill, nor the prosecutor can change the fact that the accused is a repetitive monster. Should we dismiss findings because the person is simply too vile to prosecute? That prospect is simply gag-worthy!

How bad is bad?

The prosecutor had located nineteen witnesses who had agreed to testify. Judge O’Neill told them to pick five of the eight he’d selected. The Supreme Court justices should not be micro-managing Judge O’Neill’s decision on how to balance the probative value of testimony vs. the potential for unfair prejudice, particularly because Pennsylvania’s laws make no distinction regarding the amount of such witnesses that are allowable, therefore leaving that choice to the trial judge’s discretion.

Bonjean claimed that the added testimony took up 50% of the court’s time. Jappe countered that their testimony took two days out of a ten day trial.

Convicting Cosby would have been a slam dunk if CONSENT were defined by law in PA!

Since, in the civil case, Cosby had admitted, under oath, he did not know if Constand had consented, on that basis alone, his sexual conduct would have been charged as unlawful. Instead, his case is mired in legalistic wrangling that thwarts commonsense and justice.

The future?

Bill Cosby deserves incarceration. If these justices fail to dispense justice where it’s sorely needed, they send a blatant message to society that Pennsylvania’s laws will only prosecute predators who are caught red-handed as they bludgeon their victims within an inch of their lives.

The risk of inactive ingredients in everyday drugs - Harvard Health

Trying cases when victims are drugged, drunk, or otherwise unconscious are particularly difficult to prosecute because the victim is unable to explain what happened to them while their brains failed to process pertinent data. Providing additional testimony to establish a pattern of behavior is an important prosecution practice to take monsters like Cosby off the street. Failing to recognize the importance of additional witnesses in these cases would be a grotesque miscarriage of justice.

In summary….

The important facts each justice should recognize are the following:

  1. There is no limit to how many bad-act witnesses a judge may allow to help prove motive, opportunity, preparation, planning, and knowledge.
  2. It is inconceivable that a communication as important as a promise of immunity was not codified in writing, filed with the court, and cannot be produced by the defendant or the defendant’s lawyers.
  3. A claim that a District Attorney would relinquish the commonwealth’s right to pursue the case, if additional evidence warranted their doing so, flies in the face of the norm in Pennsylvania, and is contrary to the only documentation, the National Enquirer article, that was written at the time- based on the press release issued by Cantor.

What can you do to help?

Unfortunately, judicial rules of ethics prohibit justices from case discussions with the public. Any correspondence from you would be discarded. While we can’t reach out to the justices who hold Cosby, and therefore his victims’ fates in their hands, we can make every effort to insure that Pennsylvania’s, or any state’s, victim-blaming, inappropriate laws are never repeated.

CAN has worked with legislators in Pennsylvania to codify consent in its penal code. This specific, glaring omission in Pennsylvania’s laws gives rise to the public’s gross misconceptions of what actually constitutes a sexual assault, and thrusts the possibility of conviction into the quicksand of legal-ease and archaic thought.

Write to the Pennsylvania legislators to support our efforts to #CodifyConsent in Pennsylvania’s laws so that we will never see legal wrangling again over the conviction of a serial rapist, or denial of justice to sexual assault victims.

Send your note!

Please send a note of appreciation to:

  1. Senator Katie Muth at senatormuth@pasenate.com
  2. Representative Wendi Thomas at wthomas@pahousegop.com.

Be sure to thank them for their support in creating the sorely needed transformational change that accurately defining consent as “Freely Given, Knowledgeable and Informed Agreement, #FGKIA,” will create in Pennsylvania’s laws and echo across the US and around the world!

To learn more about Cosby’s appeal, watch the video of the appeals hearing.

CONSENT- The Common cure for Domestic Violence, Rape and Sexual Assault #DVAM!

As Domestic Violence Awareness Month (#DVAM) winds down, we are nowhere nearer to the solution.

In fact, just this month in Indiana, legislators passed on an opportunity to make a difference! Their Legislative Interim Study on Consent, headed by State Representative Wendy McNamara, closed down without any stated effort to bring about change despite objections from legislators on both sides of the aisle.

Consent is critical in any conduct in which one person touches another. And when the person touches the reproductive organs of another, or performs any physical contact to engage the other person sexually, they must have CONSENT. Commonsense is pretty clear that this is so. The problem is, no state speaks definitively about what consent actually is……. leaving the police, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the public with no guidance, and only a few restricted ways to hold sexual predators accountable.

COVID 19 has forced domestic violence victims to isolate with predators who prey on them, This reality has caused legislators to take emergency measures to support services that provide sanctuary to victims. But still, they overlook the fundamental cure to preventing domestic violence from happening in the first place,….. the clear and simple recognition of “consent” that will hold offenders accountable!

Defining consent makes police action mandatory in sexual abuse cases because an obvious, blatant crime is taking place. An officer who fails to take action is aiding and abetting in the commission of a crime.

Until we #CodifyConsent in our laws, abusers, attackers, predators, and rapists have the upper hand, while victims are left at their mercy and denied their 14th amendment right to equal protection under the law.

Contact your legislators! Your vote is your voice! Only vote for candidates who pledge to #CodifyConsent in our laws!

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Do legislators Enable rape?

Indiana State Representative Wendy McNamara

On October 6th, the Legislative Interim Study Committee on Consent in Indiana, comprised of 14 Indiana legislators, and led by Representative Wendy McNamara, proved that legislators give lip-service to the problem of sexual assault, but fail to produce meaningful solutions.

In spite of protests by three legislators from both sides of the aisle, McNamara insisted on filing her committee’s report with NO support for a consent bill. She even refused to include any mention that the committee would continue to research and work toward a solution.

According to The Statehouse File.com from Franklin College, McNamara said: “I don’t think we necessarily gleaned from testimony that we need a definition as a state. I’m not prepared at this time to say we in essence recommend that we have to have a definition.”

Apparently, we need to ask Representative McNamara- “How does an obscure concept of CONSENT possibly convey an understanding of rape to the residents of Indiana? And how do you expect sexual predators to be held accountable when you, as a law maker who your constituents have entrusted with protecting them, knowingly fail to define consent in Indiana’s laws?”

In the upcoming election, voters should be deeply concerned with supporting candidates who fail to pledge to #CodifyConsent. The people of Indiana will know how their candidates stand on this issue because CAN will be tweeting every candidate over the next few weeks. And you, no matter what state or jurisdiction you live in, should do the same….. #WillYouCodifyConsent?

The Consent Awareness Network placed the need for a consent definition in Indiana right in front of the committee members’ noses.

In fact, the launch of the committee’s efforts began with a video we submitted, featuring Weinstein Survivors, Mimi Haley and Tarale Wulff, like this one. Their testimony included the fact that the jury asked for the definition for consent, and that because New York state also fails to define consent in its penal code, the judge simply replied, “Use your commonsense.”

Does McNamara actually believe that each jury should make up their own definition for consent, or should they decide the case based on the evidence presented at trial? How does making up their own definition serve society’s right for the equal protection under the law granted by the 14th Amendment of the United States?

Additional Supports

We also provided the study committee with a well-researched draft bill we’d worked on with the legislators in Pennsylvania, as well as free copies of “Your Consent – The Key to Conquering Sexual Assault.”

Here’s why legislators turn a blind eye to defining consent in our laws:

Centuries of horrifically ignoring sexual sanctity are so engrained in our penal codes that legislators are tone deaf on changing the laws.

Even Greek mythology ignored the concept of consent as in the tale of “Leda and the Swan” in which Zeus takes the form of a swan to have his way with Leda.

Our laws recognize that consent is freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement #FGKIA when protecting your property, your medical decisions, your identity on the internet, and countless other things. But the need for applying that same concept to protecting a woman’s body is treated as absurd and unimportant.

Our forefathers, many of whom had horrific records of indecent sexual conduct, fashioned laws with no regard for women, and still do so even though sexual assault can affect men as well. But there are far more voting males who are covert sexual predators, then the amount of voting male victims of sexual assault. To legislators, votes matter!

It’s baffling how law makers rely on the opinions of the legal establishment to determine what harms their constituents suffer.

Behaviors are and should be crimes because of the harm they inflict on society; not the ease or difficulty to prosecute in a court of law. Law makers put more stock in what the legal establishment says about prosecution than what their constituents actually need for protection.

CAN, including Cheryl Carmel, the Foreperson for the second Bill Cosby jury, meeting with Senator Katie Muth in Pennsylvania

The Consent Awareness Network has engaged in efforts to secure appropriate “Consent” language in penal codes in several states including MA, PA, AK, UT, NY, IN, TX, SC, and more. Each legislator we spoke with is clear that consent is freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement, #FGKIA, but in each and every state, the legislative reliance on the legal establishment is creating an impasse to securing appropriate protections for society. 

Lawmakers did not have to ask permission from the legal establishment to determine what constitutes murder. We all know that the pre-meditated killing of another human being is a crime. The US Department of Justice Statistics tells us that only one third of violent crimes actually lead to an arrest. Despite the difficulty pursuing murderers, we still recognize what murder actually is. Despite the difficulty pursuing sexual predators, our laws must correctly state that consent is freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement, and that nonconsensual sex is a crime!

Call your legislator. Demand that they #CodifyConsent in your state. If you’d like CAN’s help securing correctly defined “consent” in your penal code, contact us at info@ConsentAwareness.net.

Once our lawmakers get CONSENT right, the legal establishment will have to prosecute or defend sexual assault cases according to the law. Reliance on the legal establishment to create the law is like the tail wagging the dog! In this case, it’s a very complacent, cavalier dog that thinks society won’t recognize how complicit they are in enabling rape.

Stop the ignorant nonsense. Demand that legislators #CodifyConsent today!

Timing- “The most important piece in reporting sex crimes”

On September 15th, Indiana Representative Wendy McNamara headed a legislative study on CONSENT. One of the presenters, Samantha McCoy from RISE spoke about a case in which the victim was denied justice because she waited a year to take action. The officer told her “The most important piece to reporting is the timeline.”

The reporting timeline affects cases even when the victim reports within the statute of limitations.

Denial of justice is common

In the Harvey Weinstein case, his defense introduced testimony from an expert witness on how memory degrades over time. She ignored the fact that in rape, or other traumatic contact, memories are indelibly seared into the mind. This phenomenon explains why Dr. Christine Blasey Ford could recall details of Brett Kavanaugh’s attack but he, himself, remembered nothing. In a drunken stupor, his behavior, which contained no trauma to him, failed to register in his memory.

After suffering the defiling trauma of rape, many victims simply want to avoid all thought about the incident to restore “normal.” It takes hard work and effort to come to terms with what happened. Overcoming the onslaught to one’s self esteem, destruction of trust, and all the physical and emotional wounds that were inflicted, takes an effort of huge magnitude.

Often, when victims feel ready to pursue justice, our system of justice denies access because the aggrieved is considered to have degraded memory. Here’s the solution…..

Write it down and send a LETTER to SELF!

No matter whether you feel ready or willing to step forward, those feelings can change over time. Preserve your right to be taken seriously by emailing, to yourself, a detailed account of the events. The closer to the date of the actual incident you do so, the greater the acknowledgement you will gain down the road from those in authority. Be sure you hang onto this email by filing it permanently in your system.

Added benefit…..

Trauma scatters your memory. The neuropeptides and hormones that protect your psyche and your body can veil factual awareness from entering your brain in a linear way. One of the reasons the reports of rape victims are treated as “suspect” is because their concepts fail to initially take a linear track. If, however, you write down your account, for your own eyes, you will go through the linear thought process that enables you to assemble the jumbled pieces.

Whether you ultimately decide to go forward with reporting or not, the ability to package your trauma into a document you can file and to revisit as you desire, will help you stop struggling with the memories. It allows you to literally put those memories on the shelf and move past them.

Up-Vote Your Favorite CONSENT Song Contest Entry

Watch and vote for your favorite! And subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

Have singing talent or know someone who does? Read the guidelines and get those entries in by midnight September 1. Voting ends midnight, September 15th.

Grand Prize $500!

Raise awareness! Help define consent to make the world a safer place!