Vivica A. Fox Defends Bill Cosby Against Rape Accusations, But Ignores the Complexities of the Situation

Let us all take this moment to give ourselves the tiny relief of a deep, prolonged sigh, please — 'cause we're gonna need it. Twenty-four public rape accusations in, yet another person has come forward to defend Bill Cosby. This time that person is Vivica A. Fox, who swears Cosby "is nothing like that man that they are describing." But the way she's talking about the man she knew from working on The Cosby Show spells out another point that we often neglect discussing in cases like this: the people around you do not always reveal everything they are capable of.

This week has seen a number of Cosby's former co-workers and employees speaking out in defense of the reputation of the man they knew/know. Cosby's longtime onscreen wife, Phylicia Rashad, even broke her silence:

What I said is, ‘This is not about the women. This is about something else. This is about the obliteration of legacy.’[...]My initial reaction to the allegations was, ‘Hmm. Someone has a vested interest in preventing Mr. Cosby’s return to network television.’ I did talk to him toward the beginning of all of this, and his comment then was that the Internet has given some anonymous people a very loud voice.

Let's all take this opportunity to sigh deeply again.

Now we've got Fox speaking up, saying in an interview on The Meredith Viera Show that, in her experience with Cosby, he was "nice, kind, there was no sexual overtones or anything, so I defend him and I stand by him as well, too."

The Meredith Vieira Show on YouTube

But she, like Rashad, is kind of missing the point with those words: An alleged rapist doesn't have to be creepy, sexual, or in any way sketchy with every person they interact with to still have committed the crimes they're being accused of. It's something practically every case butts up against: the inability of those close to the accused to believe that the person they've interacted with and cared about could be the same person who could commit such atrocities.

Fox does cede towards the end that "we all weren't there" for the alleged events of sexual assault. On that she's correct, and I don't doubt that she's telling her truth about the Cosby she knew and worked with. But people contain multitudes, and sometimes those multitudes are really, really shitty. The over two dozen women who've spoken publicly about their alleged assaults at the hands of Cosby experienced a very different man. The hard thing to confront is that all of these versions could be equally true.

No one wants to believe that Bill Cosby is a serial rapist. That's part of why the accusations against him stayed buried for so, so long. But here I'm going to quote from Ta-Nehisi Coates' Atlantic piece on the Cosby allegations: "Believing Bill Cosby does not require you to take one person's word over another — it requires you take one person's word over 15 others."

That number's grown, too. How many women does it take?