Finally, a powerful man is held to account for his sexual misconduct

By

Opinion

April 30, 2018 - 11:00 PM

Bill Cosby walks out of the Montgomery County Courthouse on Thursday in Norristown, Pa. after learning a jury found him guilty of sexual assault. DAVID SWANSON/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS

Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial wasn’t a #MeToo case, per se. It had been pending for years and had already gone through a first trial that ended in a hung jury last June. Nor was it even the first high-profile sexual misconduct conviction of the post-Harvey Weinstein era. It was preceded, for instance, by the trial and sentencing of Larry Nassar, the Team USA gymnastics physician who molested scores of girls in his care.

Nonetheless, the guilty verdict Thursday is a tremendous event, perhaps even a watershed moment for women whose stories of sexual misconduct — from rape to on-the-job harassment — have too often and for too long been downplayed or even ignored.

Now, at a time when women around the country are coming forward to talk about sexual harassment, sexual assault, casual sexism, pay inequity and second-class treatment, this conviction holds out a ray of hope. For those whose rape and assault complaints have not been taken seriously, whose accusations have not been investigated, whose character has been assassinated and whose motivations and morality have been questioned for decades in criminal courtrooms — this verdict suggests that even the most powerful offenders can be held to account for their misdeeds.

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