It's not quite a silence-breaking, but Bill Cosby's lawyer has finally released a statement in regards to the resurfacing of his client's rape allegations. Unfortunately the statement itself consists of the verbal equivalent of Cosby's continued silence. It's pretty much the most you can say without really saying anything at all.
According to The Wrap attorney John. P. Schmitt released the following statement Sunday:
Over the last several weeks, decade-old, discredited allegations against Mr. Cosby have resurfaced. The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true. Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment. He would like to thank all his fans for the outpouring of support and assure them that, at age 77, he is doing his best work. There will be no further statement from Mr. Cosby or any of his representatives.
Schmitt makes reference to "discredited allegations" against his client, likely referring to the Andrea Constand case, which a judge dismissed for lack of evidence. Constand later filed a civil claim against Cosby, which was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. It was this civil claim, too, that also brought out of the woodwork twelve other woman claiming Cosby sexually assaulted them, including Tamara Green and Barbara Bowman, the latter of whom wrote a Washington Post op-ed recently entitled "Bill Cosby Raped Me. Why Did It Take 30 Years For People to Believe My Story?"
The thing about these "discredited" claims is that it is hard not to look at the other relevant elements here: That twelve is a lot of women to be lying about something so personal and so traumatic, and that bringing sexual assault cases to justice within the criminal justice system is notoriously difficult — according to RAINN only three out of every 100 rapists serve time. Only 40 out of that hundred actually get reported to the police; only four out of the hundred get a felony conviction, and only eight out of that hundred get prosecuted.
In this context the dismissal and settlement of Green's case is only one part of the puzzle, and one that arguably shouldn't be speaking louder than the voices of the women who are still so insistently speaking out even after 30 years of being zoned out. Just look at how Green explained her decision to press charges so long after the alleged assault, as she recalled in a Newsweek interview earlier this year:
A lawyer told me I would be crazy to come out after 20 years and accuse him. But I waited and waited to see who would back this [other girl who was accusing Cosby] up, and nobody else would....I saw how nobody believed her. She had trusted him, and he had drugged her and then assaulted her, just like what happened to me. I saw that nobody was going to take him on, so I felt like it was my duty to risk my neck and stand [up] for all the other women who’ve been assaulted by him.
On why she didn't press charges when it allegedly initially occurred:
Here’s a question: that girl who he attacked in 2004, how did it work out for her? It never works out, unless you’re bleeding and there’s DNA and an eyewitness. I was 19 and he was the king of the world, so how was it going to work? I was a teenager. Nobody would’ve believed me.
It is important to remember in cases like this that the public is not a judge or jury. But it is also important to acknowledge that rape culture is present in every inch of things like this, especially when you are dealing with someone as powerful and wealthy as Cosby — and especially when you are dealing with someone who the public is very resistant to looking at the dark side of.
So Cosby and his attorneys may not want to "dignify these allegations with any comment," but they're the kind of accusations that deserve dignifying.