By Camille O. Cosby, Special to NNPA Newswire
My husband, Bill Cosby, was recently victimized by a malicious District Attorney and an equally vicious judge. This is not the first time that my husband has been persecuted by corrupt and self-serving politicians. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Bill Cosby, along with hundreds of other people, was secretly and illegally harassed by a president of the United States.
It was 1973, during the Watergate hearings, when the Enemies List of President Richard M. Nixon was disclosed by Mr. Nixon’s White House Counsel, John Dean. Bill and I were stunned that such a list existed and that Bill’s name was on that list. Soon, the answers to questions about Bill kicked in: that’s why those federal agents would appear, unannounced, at our home and his workplaces; that’s why there had been multiple tax audits within one year; that’s why hateful propaganda about Bill was disseminated by media…with an extensive goal of ending his believability and livelihood; and numerous other “that’s why” enlightenments.
There was another explosive document that was submitted during the hearings…one that deeply resonates with me, even today. It was a memorandum from Mr. Dean on how to effectively weaken Mr. Nixon’s enemies…“how we can best screw them (e.g.: litigation, prosecution, etc.).”
Now, I am going to fast-forward to two current, collaborative, corrupt politicians. Both exist in the Montgomery County Courthouse in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania and both, like Mr. Nixon, are intent on destroying Bill Cosby…whether for their toxic ambitions or simply in furtherance of racial hatred. One of those men never presented credible, admissible evidence of his charges, and the other has not allowed the truth of Bill’s innocence to be put forward.
The following are specific examples that illustrate their true agenda:
Re: District Attorney Kevin R. Steele
Unethical Campaign Promise: During the 2015 election for District Attorney, Steele campaigned on a promise to prosecute Bill Cosby. That promise purposely converted Bill’s case into a political issue for Steele’s own gain. At the time, Steele was running against the former prosecutor, Bruce Castor, who had made a binding decision not to prosecute Bill in 2005. Steele’s unethical promise undermined Castor’s political career…it also undermined the rule of law in America by violating the rule that trials be impartial and not done for corrupt political purposes.
Racially Charged Statement: During the jury selection process, M. Stewart Ryan, the assistant prosecutor, made a racially charged statement in the courtroom hallway. The defense team tried to raise Ryan’s statement in front of the judge, who repeatedly interrupted one of the defense lawyers when she was trying to make the argument. The prosecution, which picked an almost exclusively white jury, called the focus on Ryan’s statement “ludicrous,” and the judge refused to grant relief to Bill Cosby.
Failure to Disclose Evidence: Prosecutors interviewed Marguerite Jackson more than a decade ago, but failed to disclose the facts of that interview…or her statements…to the defense team before the first trial. Ms. Jackson stated that Andrea Constand had talked about making up a story of sexual assault in order to “get money.” The prosecution actually destroyed their own notes of the meeting they had with Ms. Jackson, and allowed Constand to testify falsely at the first trial that she had never met Ms. Jackson, even though the prosecution had learned that the two women worked closely together…and shared hotel rooms together…while Constand was employed at Temple University. When the prosecution finally informed the defense team about these facts shortly before the second trial, the defense lawyers were able to introduce Ms. Jackson as a witness. Even so, the impact of Ms. Jackson’s testimony was undermined by the actions of a corrupt judge.
Re: Judge Steven T. O’Neill
Marital Donation to Protesters: Before the second trial, the defense team learned that O’Neill’s wife had donated to the Women Organized Against Rape…the group organizing protests against Bill Cosby outside the courthouse. O’Neill refused to recuse himself despite his wife’s affiliation with that group and her public statements that accusers should be believed and trusted “no matter the details.” O’Neill then compounded the harm to Bill by allowing Dr. Barbara Ziv to testify that accusers must be believed at all times…just as his wife had said.
Biased Jury Pool: During jury selection, O’Neill refused to excuse a white, male juror, who had stated about Bill Cosby: “I just think he’s guilty, so we can all be done and get out of here.” When the defense team raised the juror’s bias, O’Neill admonished them for delaying jury selection. Ultimately, O’Neill agreed to hear the issue; but he still denied the defense team’s motion. If O’Neill had allowed the biased juror to be replaced, one of the two black alternate jurors would have been seated; instead, O’Neill allowed the biased juror to remain on the jury.
Feud with Defense Witness: O’Neill assigned himself to the case against Bill Cosby and then presided over a hearing at which he knew Bruce Castor would be a critical witness for the defense. O’Neill and Castor had been political rivals in 1998 and 1999; and, during that campaign, O’Neill’s affair with a woman in Castor’s office was exposed. Unbeknownst to the defense team during trial, O’Neill never forgave Castor, blaming him for exposing the affair. According to Castor’s sworn affidavit, O’Neill viewed the case against Bill, whom Castor had declined to prosecute, as a way to criticize and get back at Castor. Indeed, O’Neill actually took over the prosecution’s questioning of Castor before ruling against Bill on the basis that Castor’s testimony was not believable.
On the eve of this very important election day, these examples remind me of the dangers we faced during Mr. Nixon’s presidency. Both then and now, the American people have been dangerously close to being governed by a dictatorship…a dictatorship intent on serving its own greedy interests even when it results in eradicating the laws that protect humanity. Many of today’s politicians…especially those who are heavily financed by particular corporate entities…are becoming increasingly dangerous enemies of our human rights. However, history teaches us that we, the People of the United States, can purge this danger from our nation’s political offices. Indeed, Mr. Nixon’s corrupt presidency was finally brought to an end when the people rose up and demanded that their representatives be held accountable. We must do the same today.
America defines itself as a democracy; unequivocally, America has not accomplished that definition yet…but, we, the People, can help it do so. Tomorrow, voters have the opportunity to choose who will represent them…not just in Congress, but in thousands of state, county, and city positions across the country, like district attorney or trial judge. Our ancestors fought for the right to make these choices. They were jailed, were beaten, were killed for fighting for our right to vote. Yet, too often, we do not exercise that most important right. We overlook the mid-term elections because we forget how greatly they can impact our lives. But, as I learned from Steele’s election in 2015, a corrupt politician at any level is a danger to the American people, and even more so when that politician has promised to act in service of his own toxic ambitions and racial hatred. In tomorrow’s mid-term elections, the People of the United States must vote as though their lives depend on it because their lives…and their freedom…very well might.
I encourage everyone to vote tomorrow.
Camille O. Cosby is the eldest offspring of Guy and Catherine Hanks’s four children, according to her biography at IMDB.com. Imbued with an immense intellect and sense of social responsibility, she has long been an advocate for education and for the continued financial support of the United States’ historically African-American colleges and universities (HBCUs). Along with her husband Bill Cosby, she donated $20 million in 1988 to Spelman College, the prestigious and historically African-American women’s college located in Atlanta, Ga. Together, Camille and Bill have donated more than $200 million to schools and universities and they’ve also contributed countless pieces of historic artwork to the Smithsonian museums.
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