Known to be a legendary icon of comedy and one of the most loved American stars, Bill Cosby has played a major role in the entertainment industry since his debut. “The Cosby Show”, which starred Bill Cosby as Heathcliff Huxtable, was one of the most viewed programs on NBC during the 1960s, with viewer ratings of over 20 million. However, for the past few years, the actor has been accused of sexual assault by nearly 20 women. After years of remaining mum, several of the accusers have publicly spoken out against Cosby about the issue, leading people to question his image as “America’s Father.”
“When someone is as famous as Bill Cosby, speaking out against him requires that you deal with backlash from friends and family as well as the media and the public,” said Amy Thompson, high school counselor. “Also, when someone is a rape survivor, it may take a long time for him or her to feel okay talking about it. However, coming forward as a group can cause each of the women to feel better and can drive others to tell their stories as well.”
One of the first women to speak up about the alleged sexual abuse was Kristina Ruehli, a former secretary at the Los Angeles Talent agency. Shortly afterwards, other women also followed suit and gave their accounts to the media. According to CNN, some stories lacked evidence and credibility but all had one commonality—each woman claimed to have been drugged somehow by the comedian and could not recall the details of the incident.
Despite the numerous rape allegations, Cosby remained silent until quite recently; on Nov. 22, he told Florida Today that he did not want to respond to innuendos and false claims, and that people should fact check before making such accusations. In the wake of these sexual assault charges, he also resigned from his trustee position on the board of his alma mater, Temple University.
“Although he is remaining somewhat silent about the issue, I think that his resignation from the Temple University board is his statement and his own way of responding to the sexual assault charges,” said Sky Park (9), high school play cast member. “When the allegations first surfaced, I held onto the good impression I had of Bill Cosby, who amazes me with his acting and entertaining ability. But as the issue gained steam, I began to feel that his persona on TV was different from that of his actual private life.”
Infographic by Amelie Koo