Bill Cosby, Britney, and a tale of two American justice systems – The Guardian

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Opinion

Cosby becoming a free man on the same day Spears lost her latest battle to free herself from a man’s control is almost too on the nose

A tale of two justice systems

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a good fortune and an expensive lawyer can get away with almost anything. See as exhibit one: Bill Cosby. On Wednesday, Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned the disgraced actor’s sexual assault conviction on a legal technicality. Cosby had served two years of a three to ten-year sentence for a 2004 encounter with accuser Andrea Constand; before Wednesday’s surprise reversal he had been expected to serve the maximum time after vowing he wasn’t going to show any remorse for a crime he says he didn’t commit.

It is highly unlikely that Cosby, 83, will ever see the inside of a prison cell again. While he has been accused of sexual misconduct by 60 women, the statute of limitations for all the accusers with enough evidence to bring a case had passed by the time they went public with the allegations. All except Constand. Now, according to Wednesday’s ruling, Cosby cannot be retried for Constand’s assault. In a statement the court said overturning the guilty verdict and blocking any further prosecution “is the only remedy that comports with society’s reasonable expectations of its elected prosecutors and our criminal justice system.”

You know what? That statement is spot on: Cosby walking free is exactly what I’d expect from the US criminal justice system. There is a reason why the dozens of women who accused Cosby of misconduct took years to come forward; there is a reason more than two out of three sexual assaults are estimated to go unreported. Sexual assault victims often don’t come forward because they don’t expect to be believed or taken seriously by the legal system. And these suspicions are well-founded: according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network out of 1,000 sexual assaults, 975 perpetrators go free. Some even go on glitzy careers. A third of the six men on the US supreme court have been accused of sexual misconduct.

If you want to know who the US legal system protects and who it doesn’t, you don’t need to look much further than the events that unfolded on Wednesday. On the same day that Cosby walked free, a judge in Los Angeles denied Britney Spears’s request to be set free from her father’s control. The 39-year-old’s father, Jamie Spears, will remain a co-conservator of her estate under an arrangement Spears has called “abusive” and will continue to make decisions about her life. Let’s just pause for a moment and try and imagine a situation where the sexes were reversed and a 39-year-old male celebrity was under the legal control of his mother. Let’s try and imagine a situation where a 39-year-old male celebrity was deemed fit enough to work, but not fit enough to make decisions about his reproductive choices . I can’t quite imagine that, can you? Indeed, as many people have pointed out, Kanye West has had a high-profile mental breakdown, just like Spears. Rather than being put under a conservatorship, he went on to run for president.

Cosby becoming a free man on the same day that Spears lost her latest battle to free herself from a man’s control is almost too on the nose, isn’t it? If it happened in a TV drama you’d think the writers were being rather too heavy-handed with the social commentary. Alas, this isn’t a TV drama, it’s just another day in the American legal system.

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The 21-year-old track and field star has been suspended for one month and will miss the Olympics. A mind-boggling decision considering cannabis is not exactly a performance-enhancing drug. The Onion once again summed it up best with the headline: “Dream Crushed Over Trivial Bullshit Represents Nation Better Than Gold Medal Ever Could.”

Social network giants pledge to tackle abuse of women online

More than a third of all women, and almost half of young women, worldwide have experienced abuse online to a 2021 study from the Economist Intelligence Unit. Facebook, Google, Twitter and TikTok have now committed to overhauling their moderation systems and improving how they tackle online abuse. Not going to hold my breath on this one!

The trauma of mothers caught in Israel-Gaza conflict

“Trauma, stress and proximity to explosions have led to many miscarriages during the war, as well as a higher number of stillbirths,” psychologist Helana Musleh, who works at northern Gaza’s al-Awda hospital, told the Guardian. Some of the women who did deliver safely now find it difficult to bond with their baby or breastfeed because of the trauma of war and occupation. Funny how the pro-life crowd don’t seem to give a damn about this.

Donald Rumsfeld, accused war criminal, dies

As Spencer Ackerman writes: “the only thing tragic about the death of Donald Rumsfeld is that it didn’t occur in an Iraqi prison.”

Miss USA is getting its first openly trans contestant

Kataluna Enriquez was just crowned Miss Nevada and will compete in the Miss USA pageant in November. Good for her! Let’s be honest, though, beauty contests are still sexist and regressive even if they are more inclusive.

James Franco agrees to $2.2mn settlement in sexual misconduct suit

I suppose you could see this as a win for accountability. However, the real winners here are (as usual) the lawyers, who are collecting a big payday.

Smallville actor Allison Mack sentenced to three years for role in Nxivm cult

Mack was charged with manipulating women into become sex “slaves” for the cult leader.

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Mary Trump reckons Donald Trump’s kids will turn on him

“His relationship with them, and their relationship with him, is entirely transactional and conditional,” she told MSNBC. If they weren’t all such awful people you’d have to feel kind of sorry for them.

The week in pet-riarchy

I dunno how I missed this news, but it seems you are able to book farm animals to “goat-crash” your boring Zoom meeting. Nothing like some llama drama to liven remote work up.

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