More than 50 women have come forward to claim they were sexually abused, drugged, or assaulted by comedian and actor Bill Cosby. Cosby, 79, has maintained his innocence amid the bevy of accusations, and his lawyers have said that the serious allegations will be proven incorrect. And as the claims about Cosby continue to emerge, the image of the gentle, sweater-wearing father figure from his self-titled series The Cosby Show has begun to chip away. And the way Cosby has joked about sexual assault during the course of his career creates a different and eerie feeling when looked at in the context of his upcoming trial, which is scheduled for June 2017.
In 2015, one attorney, Marty Singer, labeled numerous allegations raised against Cosby as "fantastical" and "unsubstantiated." Still, several statements Cosby made either as jokes or commentary throughout his years as an entertainer continue to raise eyebrows.
In a Cosby book published in 1999 titled Congratulations! Now What?, written for newly-minted college graduates, there are a few concerning parts. For example, there's a chapter on "affirmative consent," which seemed to extol the fact that men would no longer have to deal with "campus police." That same chapter also mocked the idea of having "yes means yes" serve as the standard on whether to engage in sexual activity with a woman.
“I’m really glad you agreed to go out with me, Louise,” reads an excerpt from the chapter. The female replies, “Well, I heard violins when you filled out the pre-foreplay form.” Later in the date, the female responds to a compliment her date gives her, saying, "Max, I don’t want you to have a record, so I’ll pretend you didn’t say that without permission. Do I have to quote the Supreme Court on Ruddy v. Weinstock and Kansas State?" The male responds, "Sorry, Okay, Simon says: May I look at your face?"
There were many outspoken conservative critics of the affirmative consent movement, including syndicated columnist George Will, and there was even a Saturday Night Live skit on the subject, "Is it Date Rape?" at the time of the book release, which does provide some context as to why Cosby may have written that particular section.
Cosby also seemed to have no qualms with trivializing the sexual assault scandals in one of his shows in 2015. During a performance in Ontario, Canada, after a woman in the front row stood up and started walking out, Cosby said something, and she replied that she was going to get a drink, and asked Cosby if he wanted one. Cosby reportedly said in reply, "You have to be careful about drinking around me."
Another joke is from his 1969 album It's True! It's True!, in which Cosby talked about being a 13-year-old boy and learning about Spanish fly" — a drug that is slipped into women's drinks to make them more open to a man's pursuit of them.
"From then on, anytime you see a girl, 'Wish I had some Spanish fly,'" Cosby says in the 1969 recording. "Go to a party, see five girls standing alone. Boy, if I had a whole jug of Spanish fly, I'd light that corner up over there."
Cosby's attorneys, including lead defense attorney Brian McMonagle, have said that the evolving scandal has obliterated the acts and commitment Cosby took for civil rights during his career. During the pretrial, which took place on Sept. 6 in Pennsylvania, it was decided that the official trial will be postponed to June 5, 2017, with the "extraordinarily overbooked" schedule of Cosby's defense lawyer as the reasoning. In addition, the upcoming trial will take into account evidence from Cosby's 2005 deposition — something his lawyers did not want to be included.