I have watched Bill Cosby on television since the sixties when he co-starred on the TV series “I SPY.” I was just a child then. Over the decades he has been on TV shows and movies. He was known for his stand-up comedy also. He was always the face of the wholesome Black American father figure.
Unfortunately for Bill Cosby, there have been shocking revelations in the media about allegations of sexual assault that have just jumped up in the news. It seems that this pattern of date drugging females has been a regular habit of Cosby for several decades.
His case raises some interesting legal issues that I have been studying in my Tort Law class at community College. The main issue is the tort of defamation of character. The legal question is, if these women are lying against Bill Cosby, he has a case against them for defamation of character. Although, he has chosen not to file any lawsuits yet that would stop all of these accusations.
Defamation of character has two forms: Slander: which are statements that are spoken that defames a person’s character and Libel, which are written statements that defame a person’s character. The type of very serious libel that his accusers have gone on record as reporting are: Libel Per Se, which is any writing (including drawings) about a specific category of defamatory statements that is considered to be so serious that an injury to the plaintiff’s reputation may be presumed. The type of slander that these ladies have been recorded as saying is Slander Per Se, which would be triggered if the defendant accuses the plaintiff of committing a crime involving theft or dishonesty, or of having a communicable sexual disease.
Things are a little harder for public figures and big media stars like Bill Cosby with the courts. The “New York Times Rule” held that a public figure will not be entitled to damages unless she/he can present clear and convincing evidence that the statements were made with "actual malice." Actual malice is the defendant’s reckless or intentional statements of a false fact.
Bill Cosby would have an air tight case against these accusers if what they were saying is false! If what they are saying is true, then it is best for Bill Cosby, not to talk about these allegations at all.
As a marriage and family therapist, I would recommend that Bill Cosby, just stay at home with his wife and have Jell-O Pudding, go to church on Sunday and play golf in the future!