Its common knowledge in our judicial system that the Burden of Proof lies on the Prosecution, as it should…. in most situations, that is. The Burden of Proof is often used to protect innocent people from being convicted of a crime that we already know has been committed, such as murder, assault, theft. These crimes themselves are easily proven. The ‘whodunit’ is the hard part. If a person is murdered, there is no question that this event took place. No one sits around over coffee discussing whether or not this person is actually dead. No one questions the motives of the dead person. No one asks the dead person to come on countless interviews, defending their claims that they did, in fact, die. The reason the Burden of Proof is on the Prosecution and not the Defense is because, typically, the murdered person isn’t there to say exactly who is was that committed this crime. We have no personal testimony. We have no witness (usually). All we have left is evidence. Unfortunately, sometimes this evidence is unclear, possibly even totally misleading. So its up to the Prosecution to make sure that there are NO questions remaining about who may have committed this crime. Burden of Proof is a great thing. Thanks to the Burden of Proof, we Americans are (mostly) protected from being wrongly convicted of crimes that we would otherwise not be able to prove we didn’t commit.
But all too often, and usually at the hands of pseudo-internet-lawyers, the Burden of Proof becomes the Burden of Being a Victim.
The problem with the Burden of Proof is when we start using it as a tool to silence victims of crimes, rather than using it as a means to ensure proper conviction. It was put in place to protect defendants, not to prosecute accusers. Yet, we see this happening every single day with victims of rape, sexual assault, or abuse.
Recently, the rape allegations against America’s most beloved sexual predator resurfaced. At the forefront of these claims is Barbara Bowman, an aspiring actress who was taken under Bill Cosby’s wing, and repeatedly subjected to being drugged and raped by a man the whole world trusted. You can read more about her side of the story here.
She’s not the only victim coming forward. Last I checked, there were 13 other women also making their own claims about Bill Cosby, and just this morning, I read an article by Janice Dickinson, claiming he had also raped her by drugging her in his home. Despite the fact that more than a dozen women believe to have been raped by Bill Cosby, and despite the fact that every single story I’ve ready by each of them is eerily similar to the one before, and despite the fact that Bill Cosby even settled out of court many years ago with one of the victims….. NO ONE is daring to burden dear old Mr. Cosby with asking him his side of the story.
This week, Whoopi Goldberg said she has some “questions” about these rape claims. Her questions however, are not for Bill Cosby. Not, “Hey Bill, why would this lady make this up 30 years later?” or “Why would she have been dressed only in her underwear when she woke up?” or “Why have you built a career out of raping young women, Bill?” NO. Her questions were directed towards the only person in this situation who has bothered to give any answers. You see, Whoopi Goldberg feels that, until Ms. Bowman comes onto her talk show and gets interrogated yet again, answers uncomfortable questions about having someone put their dirty hands all over her body, and allows a panel full of women to judge her decision making skills, that she can’t truly make a decision as to whether or not Ms. Bowman was actually raped. Whoopi Goldberg is a strong supporter of the Burden of Being a Victim.
But Whoopi also thinks there is a difference between Rape, and “rape-rape”, too. So, we really should have seen this coming. See more of Whoopi’s enlightening thoughts on rape here.
But WHO is asking Bill Cosby the hard questions??
Bill Cosby has gone to great lengths, actually, to sidestep having to give his side of the story. He canceled two television appearances in the past week, and refuses to comment on any of the claims. Taking the higher road? Perhaps. But my biggest question is WHY are we letting him?? If someone is accused of murder, we pressure them to talk about it. We poke. We prod. We demand an answer. But when someone is accused of rape? Well, that’s okay. What is apparently NOT okay though is letting the accuser refuse to talk about it. It took Barbara Bowman almost 30 years to talk about these claims as openly as she is now. But instead of congratulating her for finally coming forward so publicly, we berate her for waiting so long to do it. And instead of looking at the evidence, we blame the victim for not doing a good enough job in making sure there was enough evidence.
Next time someone is murdered, make sure you ask them why it took them so long to tell anyone. Make sure you ask them where all the evidence went. Ask them why they were walking by themselves that night. Really make them question their judgment. Have lengthy debates over your lunch break on whether or not the murder was consensual. Ask them to come back and retell their story so you can better understand it. But DON’T, no matter what you do, ever fault the murderer. Especially if he’s funny.
Related Blog: Is Supporting Someone’s Work Supporting Their Actions?
**All opinions in this piece are of the writer, Pinky Anderson, and do not in any way reflect the opinions of A Voice For The Innocent, the Board Members, or any affiliates.