Beam Me Up

Scotty

I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…

When I was growing up, one of my favorite TV shows was “I Spy.” Robert Culp was Kelly, whose cover was international tennis star; Bill Cosby, his trainer Scotty. A white kid, I wanted to be Scotty.

Scotty was a man of great dignity who didn’t smoke or drink, a Rhodes Scholar. Not like the black stereotypes I knew then: Stepin Fetchit, Amos ’n’ Andy, Eddie Anderson (“Rochester” on “The Jack Benny Program,” or even Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben. He was kind and self-sacrificing. He had indomitable courage.

Or maybe I wanted to be Bill. It was hard to tell them apart, just as many people still have trouble telling apart Cosby from Dr. Cliff Huxtable, the wonderful husband and father he played on “The Cosby Show” two decades later.

Scotty and Bill had much in common. Both started out as a child, in North Philadelphia. Both of their mothers were maids. Both had absentee fathers who served in the Navy. Both followed their fathers into the Navy. Both were scholars and athletes at Temple University.

Only one has been accused of serial rape.

I can’t say I was disappointed in Bill Cosby. Not when the reports started to dribble in like a faucet leak over the past decade, then like a flood in the past month or so.

I already knew he was a monster. He had raped my friend, many years before. Drugged her, like he was supposed to have drugged the other women who have come forward, told their stories, been called liars and worse. For complicated reasons, I made her a promise not to tell anyone, not to go after him, in print or in anger.

A half-dozen years ago, I warned the woman who cleans our house about Bill Cosby. She was so proud that her daughter was going to Temple University, and told me how excited her beautiful child was that she was going to meet this great man. Great men have great secrets, I told her, sometimes the kind you don’t want your daughter discovering in a room alone with them.

My own father had secrets, or thought he did. The man who married my final stepmother was not the man who fathered his children. Not to her, he could not be that to her. The man who married Camille Cosby — who sees her husband as the victim of these stories — is not the man who raped my friend.

We think we know those closest to us, and sometimes we do. (It’s a little irritating how much my wife knows me: makes it hard to win arguments, brazen out moments of assholiness. She’s told me she wishes I wouldn’t always say what I’m actually thinking. At least not to the kids, friends, total strangers.)

But sometimes — maybe most times — we don’t know them.

I still want to be Scotty. I just don’t want to be Bill.

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5 Responses to Beam Me Up

  1. Al Cavasin 18 December 2014 at 6:44 am #

    Hmmm. Let’s see…”for complicated reasons I made her a promise not to tell anyone.” And you call yourself a ‘defense’ attorney – and a friend? Surely sir, you jest. How, on God’s green earth, could anyone know a friend had been drugged and raped by anyone, let alone a celebrity of Cosby’s status, and convince her not to seek remedy by every legal means possible? Is that – in and of itself – not a criminal act? Are you not, in the act of burying the facts, complicit in Cosby’s “crime?” Do you not, as an officer of the court, have a duty of care?

    I, for one, would appreciate a future column explaining what those ‘complicated reasons’ were. As it stands now, I am deeply and profoundly grateful that I have no friends of your quality.

    • Philip Rosmarin 21 December 2014 at 12:42 am #

      I think a number of people had trouble with the sentence Al quotes, and read it instead as “…I made her promise not to tell anyone.” I reckon it’s easy to miss that smallest of words (“a”), so I’ll try to use slightly larger ones in future.

      And no, it wouldn’t be any criminal act if someone indeed had counseled my friend not to talk about what happened — and maybe someone did — but that was not my advice.

      And no, an officer of the court who also wears the hat of criminal defense attorney — though I was neither at the time — does not have some duty of care to report crimes she or he has not witnessed and evidence of which comes from one source.

      I’m guessing most criminal defense lawyers, who by definition defend folks accused of crimes, prefer not to do the work properly left to police and prosecutors. If such lawyers
      became, or become, involved in any of the allegations I wrote about, it would be to line up to defend the accused.

  2. James Bordonaro 17 December 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    Even if the narrative about the rape of your friend is true, is it not ineffective to “prosecute” him in the court of public opinion?

    It appears clear that none of Cosby’s CURRENT accusers claim acts within the statute of limitations for criminal conduct. Only a few even have attempted civil lawsuits. Most claims relate to alleged incidents decades ago. Would not a typical person (non-celebrity) having been convicted of similar offenses already have served a sentence and had their conviction expunged? Is there really any credible evidence to suggest that Cosby (at age 77) is a potential threat to offend again? Isn’t it probable that some accusers have fabricated their stories in an effort to gain attention?

    Can a person not rehabilitate themselves through prayer, penitence, and/or therapy? What is to be gained? Does the public demand a mea culpa before offering forgiveness?

  3. Bruce Luyendyk 17 December 2014 at 10:20 am #

    This is a sad and important story.

  4. Dan 17 December 2014 at 10:13 am #

    Powerful column.

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