Bill Cosby’s lawyer, Marty Singer, claims the deluge of accusations against his client is the first clue that the accusations are an unwarranted pile on. Despite clear historical evidence that rape is often suppressed by the victim and, due to shame and other factors, accusations are left unmade (sometimes for decades), the lawyer argues that the preponderance of claims appearing at once is “ridiculous.” Singer said: “People are coming out the woodwork with fabricated or unsubstantiated stories about my client.” (Note: fabricated means made-up; unsubstantiated just means no one else saw it and said so. The latter hardly implies innocence.) Singer again: “people are trying to come up with these wild stories in order to justify why they have waited 40 to 50 years to disclose these ridiculous accusations.” It’s a blame the victim strategy–or more accurately, switch the victim and make the accused the victim.
But now the first case to come to court as a result of the recent deluge seems to fit Singer’s description. It’s important to note that the broader case against Cosby has been made so far in the court of public opinion–where the comedian seems to be losing. But the current case, whether the claims are true or not, is unlikely to help burnish the public opinion case against Cosby. Judy Huth’s claim is that she was forced to perform a sex act on Cosby using her hand. Her story, which she kept to herself until now (again, not atypical in rape cases), recounts Cosby taking advantage of her 40 years ago when she was 15 years old. The event took place at the Playboy mansion. Unfortunately for Huth–and potentially for the other women making claims–is that this claim may actually weaken the public condemnation of Cosby. Right or wrong, many of those who have been so vehement about the Cosby comeuppance are going to shake their heads with a virtual what do you expect? This is not a professional woman at Temple University, but a teenager at the Playboy mansion in the 70s. Some people will simply think: What did she think went on there? That kind of reaction is what people mean when they talk about “rape culture”–which charges victims with an impossible level of blame. But the fact that Huth is seeking financial damages also puts her accusation, again whether true or not, on different footing in the public perception.