Tag Archives: #SAAM

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.

Battling the Enemy Within – Military Sexual Assault

Soldiers should not need to battle their own colleagues to prevent sexual trauma!

It’s heartbreaking when women who risk their lives to defend our nation become victims of sexual assault by those with whom they serve….  and even their senior officers!  One such survivor, Teresa Crossman, intends to change that! Continue reading Battling the Enemy Within – Military Sexual Assault

“Consent” Interview- Tracy Malone Interviews Consent Crusader, Joyce Short

Available now on YouTube! 

Just in time for Sexual Violence Prevention Month!

I had the recent pleasure of interviewing with Tracy Malone, the creator of Narcissist Abuse Support  which provides meaningful information on recovery, as well as support, for hundreds of abuse sufferers.

Tracy Malone, Coach, Organizer, YouTube Guru on Recovery for Narcissist Abuse

Our discussion ran the gamut between the actual definition for “consent” to the concrete steps people can take to make the world a safer place.

I think you’ll find it enlightening!

Sexual Assault will not stop ’til we #CodifyConsent!

Our laws are failing us!

Provisions and definitions make up all of our penal codes.

  • Definitions explain the terms that are used in our provisions.
  • Provisions tell us the conducts that constitute a crime that can be prosecuted,  but provisions only make sense if their words are well-defined.

The problem…..

NO STATE OR TERRITORY DEFINES CONSENT IN OUR SEXUAL ASSAULT LAWS!

The end result of failure to define consent is a set of provisions that are out of sync with what CONSENT actually is! And sexual predators like Harvey Weinstein say:

“It’s just – I’m confused- and men are confused about all these issues!”

Take the #CodifyConsent Challenge!

We need our lawmakers to tackle sexual assault! Continue reading Sexual Assault will not stop ’til we #CodifyConsent!

#CodifyConsent – Did you hear what Harvey Weinstein said?

Weinstein finally opened his mouth at his sentencing and showed the world why we desperately need to #CodifyConsent in our laws!

When the jury asked his judge, Hon. James Burke, “What’s the legal definition for consent?’ all he could say was:

“Use your commonsense!”

Continue reading #CodifyConsent – Did you hear what Harvey Weinstein said?

#SAAM Day of Action Challenge

Today is a very special day. Today, we wear the color teal because it’s the day we devote to taking action to prevent sexual assault. And even though we’ve all been put on pause, there is still much we can do to bring the scourge of sexual assault to its knees!

Today is the 19th Day of Action for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Even though we’re sheltering in place, or perhaps because Continue reading #SAAM Day of Action Challenge

What an Unmasked Trump Teaches Us About Consent

By his refusal to wear a mask, Trump is flaunting morality. If wearing a mask were required by law, he’d have to comply. Instead he can flaunt moral reasoning and science to maintain his outward appearance because, let’s face it….  the only reason he’s not wearing a mask is because he doesn’t like how he’d look. To Trump, personal vanity trumps concern for his fellow man.

A true leader would understand the moral imperative behind his wearing that mask, not only to protect those around him, but to set an example for the world.

When you insist that your children wear a mask, and they say, “But the President doesn’t wear one, why should I?” there is only one answer you can give them; “Because he just doesn’t give a damn about who he harms. We do.”

Trump and Consent

Trump’s example reveals why we so desperately need to #CodifyConsent in our laws. There are people who walk among us that will only abide by decency and morality when laws establish accountability. They will skirt around penal codes that fail to cast a wide and incontrovertible net. They will rape, assault, and even murder if they are not reigned-in by established law.

Our sexual assault laws are fraught with legal loopholes that immoral people slip through. For background on a few, read the posts on Donald Ward, Kim McMorries, Roger Hardy, Justin Schneider and more.

The vast expanse of the legal loopholes in sexual assault laws can only be plugged up by codifying consent into law.

The Pandemic’s Interference

COVID-19 has paused the train that is moving the bill we’ve been working on in PA down the tracks. But we have wonderful legislators who have pledged to go forward as quickly as humanly possible.

Meanwhile- here’s a little song to hum while we wait – to the tune of:

“You’re so Vain”

by Carly Simon and revised by moi……

 

You walked up to the platform,

Like all those times you’d  done so before.

And you stumbled over all your printed text,

While you pointed out your ratings that soar.

 

You had one eye on the camera,

As you shift and avoid press with ease.

And half the world, when they listen, they get sucked-in

‘Til your bald spot’s revealed by the breeze.

 

You’re so vain,

You won’t wear a mask ‘cuz it’s not cool.

You’re so vain,

The safety of others, not for this fool.

This fool,

This fool!

 

Oh… Pandemics are not a “real big threat,”

North Korea is not our foe.

And we all should be dying in a painful death,

So the wealthy can keep all their dough.

 

But, how will they actually spend it, once you’ve destroyed our democracy,

We had our choices but they’ve all been dismantled,

All been dismantled, cuz,

 

You’re so vain,

You won’t wear a mask ‘cuz it’s not cool.

You’re so vain,

The safety of others, not for this fool.

This fool,

This fool!

 

Yes…

 

You’re so vain,

You won’t wear a mask ‘cuz it’s not cool.

You’re so vain,

The safety of others, not for this fool.

This fool,

This fool!

Feel free to record your version of this song on YouTube. And don’t forget to post it here!

Happy Sunday! (Due to sheltering in place, I  actually had to look at my phone to make sure I had the day right!)  I hope everyone reading this, and also those who don’t, are safe, healthy, and secure!

And, before I forget, only 2 more days before “Your Consent-The Key to Conquering Sexual Assault” is free for everyone until 4/12. Share this information with your friends. Get your copy. Call your legislators, and demand change! #CodifyConsent

Your Consent - The Key to Conquering Sexual Assault
Free from 4/7 to 4/12 http://bit.ly/YourconsentE

 

 

 

#SAAM Starts Today!

#CAN Celebrates #SAAM
Teal is the official color for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

For many people- Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) begins today. But for those who have been sexually assaulted, #SAAM is an everyday occurrence. While we all find ways to put the past behind us, and make the most of our lives, the defilement of rape is character changing. It lives within us forever.

For the team of CAN’s Consent Outreach Ambassadors, who devote Continue reading #SAAM Starts Today!