During a rare public appearance in Philadelphia, disgraced comic Bill Cosby reportedly made a reference to the #MeToo movement, which has taken down high-profile men accused of sexual misconduct across various industries, and asked that he not be lumped in with those men. "I just shook your hand like a man," Cosby told The Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Laura McCrystal. "Please don't put me on #MeToo."
Over the last several years, more than 50 women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, including rape. Cosby has denied all accusations of sexual assault and said the encounters were consensual. He was charged with sexual assault in 2015 in connection with a 2004 incident; however, that case ended in a mistrial. A retrial is scheduled for April, USA Today reports.
According to the Inquirer, Cosby — who has largely stayed out of the spotlight since his trial — had dinner Wednesday at Ristorante La Veranda with an old friend, where he told jokes in a "largely empty dining room." A throng of cameraman and reporters were also in attendance, and Cosby reportedly talked about his love for Philadelphia during the winter time.
“The feel of this city at this time for me with the snow," said Cosby, who is currently living in Massachusetts. "You know, it’s just a great, good, crisp feel."
According to the Inquirer, Cosby largely avoided discussing the accusations against him during his meal Wednesday — though he did say that he's "ready" for the impending retrial.
By "please don't put me on #MeToo," Cosby apparently intended to indicate that he doesn't wish to be put in the same category as men like Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., James Toback and the countless others who've been accused of sexual misconduct since October 2017, when the #MeToo hashtag exploded on social media. But although Cosby maintains that he's innocent, the things that he is accused of doing are every bit as serious as the allegations against the many, many, many other men who've been accused of sexual misconduct under the #MeToo banner.
Although Cosby has a long list of accusers, his trial centered on claims made by Andrea Constand, who says that Cosby drugged her at his home in 2004 and — once she was immobile — groped her breasts, and "penetrated her vagina with his fingers," according to the arrest affidavit. Cosby, on the other hand, says that he merely gave Constand over-the-counter Benadryl, and that any sexual contact they had was consensual.
But in 2005-2006, Cosby gave a deposition as part of a civil suit that Constand had filed against him, and he made several comments at that deposition that, in the eyes of many observers, gave credence to Constand's version of the story.
In that deposition, Cosby acknowledged that he had misled Constand as to the nature of the pills he gave her, saying that he told her they were "herbal medication" even though they were, by his own account to police, Benadryl. He also acknowledged that in the past, he had given Quaaludes — a powerful sedative — to a woman before having sex with her. It's unclear who he was referring to, as the name was redacted from the deposition; however, it was not Constand.
Cosby also made comments in that deposition that suggested a failure to understand what constitutes consent. Recounting his experience with Constand, Cosby said that he went "into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection." When asked what he meant, he repleid that "there's a certain area with a woman, which I imagine if she doesn't want, she will stop you there." He also stated that Constand remarked to him at one point that she wanted a "tight butt;" when asked during the deposition whether he believed that this constituted consent to grab her butt, Cosby replied "you're darn right."
The accusations against Cosby exploded in 2015, two years before the #MeToo movement took the Internet. It's no surprise that he doesn't want to be associated with the movement, but he hasn't given any reason why he shouldn't be. The fact that he shook a female reporter's hand at dinner doesn't change that.