#MeToo hysteria led to Cosby's being freed

I think it is a shame that Bill Cosby is a free man and may even be able to sue for wrongful conviction.  But I blame the climate of hysteria that was engendered during the media-driven #MeToo craze for the errors of judgment by both the prosecutors and the judge in the case that resulted in his incarceration.  The expression "witch hunt" normally is employed to describe moments of hysteria during which procedural safeguards are ignored in the push to demonize those believed to be guilty of whatever the craze hates.  But since the victims were almost all males, perhaps this should be called a "warlock hunt" moment.

I base my opinion on a fascinating essay by law professor Jonathan Turley:

Bill Cosby is a free man after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the conviction that sent him to jail roughly three years ago to serve three to 10 years for sexual assault. 

The opinion correctly found that the trial judge and prosecutors denied Cosby a fair trial and due process in 2018. The question now is whether Cosby might seek damages for his conviction and incarceration.

In their 79-page opinion, the judges found that a "non-prosecution agreement" reached with Cosby should have barred the prosecution. In the earlier agreement, the prosecutor, Bruce Castor Jr., agreed not to charge Cosby in return for his civil deposition.  

Cosby proceeded to incriminate himself in what the court said was a bait-and-switch. The later prosecutor then just ignored the non-prosecution agreement. The trial was also undermined by the decision of the trial court to allow women to testify as witnesses on uncharged alleged crimes against Cosby.

We know that Cosby was guilty of at least some of the crimes for which he was convicted because of his own testimony.  The problem is that the prosecutor and the judge cheated him out of his procedural rights.

My guess is that they committed these errors because of the atmosphere of the time, during which few people dared to speak up to protect those who were the target of the hysteria in any way, even by insisting on proper procedures to protect their constitutional rights.  The second prosecutor's decision to ignore the agreement made by his predecessor was taken at a moment when he would have anticipated outrage had he allowed Cosby to walk away a free man after having given self-incriminating testimony in the civil case.

The outrage over Cosby's being set free properly should be aimed at the hysterics — people like Senator Mazie Hirono, who told men to "shut up."  Hirono was speaking during the Kavanaugh confirmation, but her extremist attitude was rife throughout the entire hysterical interlude.


YouTube screen grab (cropped).

Yes, it is good that men know they will face consequences for sexual harassment.  But anger combined with self-righteousness is a dangerous cocktail.  Cosby being set free is on the heads of those who pushed the hysteria.  They should be shamed.

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