Bill Cosby case painful reminder for American fans

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Philadelphia court faces a formidable task today, finding 12 jurors and six alternates who believe they can deliver a fair verdict about the behavior of a man who was once America’s most beloved dad.

They must do it while spending at least two weeks 300 miles from their homes in the Pittsburgh, Pa., area.

Bill Cosby has been accused by 51 women of drugging and sexually assaulting them in incidents extending back to the 1960s when Cosby became one of the first African-American stars of a network television series, “I Spy.”

Most of the incidents can no longer be prosecuted because of statutes of limitations, but not this one, 13 years ago when a Temple University basketball team manager, seeking Cosby’s career advice, was allegedly drugged and molested.

Whether or not prosecutors can prove their case, Cosby’s story is a tragedy of historic proportions.

His alleged mistreatment of women, combined with his one-time stature as a role model for young people, young black males, in particular, makes his downfall particularly painful.

Baby Boomers grew up memorizing his LP comedy albums, watching his 1960s television shows and learning from his appearances on PBS’s The Electric Company, as well as his Fat Albert cartoon programs.

That character was the topic of his Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Massachusetts.

The Cosby Show, featuring an affluent black family, was number one for five years in the 1980’, its finalé broadcast while riots spawned by the Rodney King verdict roared outside in Los Angeles.

His celebrity and wealth apparently were able to shield him from accusations for decades, but Cosby’s behavior seems to have finally overshadowed his public persona.

Free on $1 bail, he’s scheduled to go on trial by June 5.

His common-sense talk and success were a positive influence for decades before his behind-the-scenes behavior undermined it all.

Men like the Bill Cosby Americans thought they knew are sorely needed. He will be hard to replace.

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