June 22nd, 2017 1:24 PM
By Arlene Jones
Two court cases came to a finale this past week, but with very dissimilar results.
The first was the Cosby trial. One has to be living under a rock to not know that veteran actor/comedian Bill Cosby was on trial, accused of having raped Andrea Constand over 10 years ago. The jury, after hearing the evidence was deadlocked and couldn't come to a decision as to guilt. So a mistrial was declared.
I am and will continue to be a Cosby supporter. The women's liberation movement, which came into existence as I grew up, sent me the constant message that women can do anything they want and that we are equal to men. Thus when it comes to the sexual encounter between Cosby and Constand (and the majority of women who claimed similar situations), I cast a wary eye over accounts that turn women into mere victims and men into dominating abusers, especially when it comes down to "he said/she said" accusations.
Men are entitled to be "innocent until proven guilty" just as much as women are entitled to be believed. Plus it seems every week or so, a black man is released from prison after having served decades for a crime he didn't commit. Had I been on the jury, I too would have held a firm line against convicting a man of rape when so much doubt existed. I do believe a sexual encounter occurred between the two of them. The question boiled down to whether or not it was consensual.
Prior to this criminal trial, Cosby had been sued by Constand in a civil lawsuit. He gave a deposition and that deposition was used in the criminal case. I am not a lawyer, but the ability to have a person give testimony in a civil case only to use their words against them in a criminal case sounds like a violation of the 5th Amendment. Many a person has taken the fifth so as not to incriminate themselves. If I were Cosby, I would take it before the Supreme Court so that others without his financial resources can never be placed in that catch-22.
Constand gave explanations as to why there were over 70 phone calls to Cosby following the alleged event. That, along with the gifts she gave him afterwards, didn't sound like a grown woman of 30 being manipulated by a predator. I can understand giving the man a sweater. Cosby was known for wearing them. But bath salts? Who gives a man bath salts unless they know that the man enjoys baths? That alone indicates a level of familiarity for me. The DA has promised to retry Cosby and only time will tell if it happens.
The outcome of the trial of Officer Jeronimo Yanez for the murder of Philander Castile is a different story. Castile was the driver pulled over for a traffic stop. He truthfully told the officer he had a conceal-carry weapon. Castile was shot five times. He was killed in front of his girlfriend and her child. The cop's response was the infamous "I feared for my life" excuse. The jury's not guilty verdict caused a lot of outrage as it should. Castile's seatbelt was still on and he was shot while reaching for his license, according to the girlfriend who posted the aftermath on Facebook Live.
We need federal directives (laws) as to what and how police and conceal-carry holders should behave during an interaction. If you tell the police you have a weapon and still end up dead, why admit it? Or should conceal-carry holders have a special box in their car where they place their weapon during a police stop? Castile's death should not be in vain.
It also represents an opportunity for an entrepreneur to come up with solutions that are workable for both the officer and the weapon holder.
To view the full print edition of the Austin Weekly News 2017 Answer Book, please click here.
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