Bill Cosby plans to lecture teens about avoiding sexual-assault accusations

Would you send your teenager to a public lecture by Bill Cosby about sexual assault and how to avoid being accused?

That, says his publicist Andrew Wyatt, could be on the horizon this summer when Cosby — still facing criminal counts of sexual assault himself — launches a series of town halls for young people, especially athletes, to warn them of the dangers of "hanging out and partying, when they're doing certain things they shouldn't be doing."

Wyatt and his associate Ebonee Benson, both of whom were glued to Cosby's side during his 11-day trial that ended in a mistrial in Pennsylvania on June 17, went on Good Day Alabama in Birmingham to declare that Cosby wants to "get back to work" with a motivational speaking tour.

“We’re now planning town halls and we’re going to be coming to this city (Birmingham) sometime in July … to talk to young people because this is bigger than Bill Cosby," Wyatt said.

“This issue can affect any young person, especially young athletes of today, and they need to know what they’re facing when they’re hanging out and partying, when they’re doing certain things that they shouldn’t be doing. And it also affects married men.”

Cosby, himself married for 53 years to wife Camille, knows this only too well. He was charged with three counts of aggravated indecent sexual assault stemming from a 2004 encounter with accuser Andrea Constand at his home outside Philadelphia. She said he drugged and molested her; he said the encounter was consensual.

After six days of testimony and five days of deliberations over 52 hours, the jury of seven men and five women failed to reach a verdict. According to an unnamed juror who spoke to ABC News late Wednesday, the jury split 10-2 for conviction on two counts and 11-1 for acquittal on one count.

However, another unnamed juror told The Associated Press on Thursday that the vote counts were actually more evenly split, and some jurors believed politics played a role in the decision to charge Cosby 13 years after the encounter.

After the mistrial, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele instantly announced he would retry Cosby and Judge Steven O'Neill expects to rule on whether and when that would happen within four months.

Wyatt told USA TODAY in an email that he and Benson have fielded "hundreds of calls from civic organizations and churches requesting for Mr. Cosby to speak to young men and women about the judicial system," which he said, Cosby believes charged him for political reasons.

Cosby's lawyers have long argued that the criminal charges against him were motivated by politics after his case was caught up in a 2015 political campaign for district attorney in Montgomery County outside Philadelphia. Judge O'Neill considered their arguments and rejected them before the trial.

Wyatt says young people need to be aware that Cosby was promised he would not be criminally charged by a former district attorney.

"And then 12 years later, Kevin Steele runs a Willie Horton-style campaign ad saying, 'If you elect me I will bring Bill Cosby to justice,'" Wyatt said. "These groups would like for Mr. Cosby to share that people in the judicial system can use their powers to annul deals for personal agenda and political ambitions."

It is not clear whether Cosby's defense team, Brian McMonagle of Philadelphia and Angela Agrusa of Los Angeles, are aware of Cosby's plans and approve of them. Neither returned emails from USA TODAY requesting comment.

Steele's spokeswoman, Kate Delano, said anything Cosby says in a public forum could potentially be used in court in a future trial. Steele was able to introduce Cosby's own words from 12-year-old police interviews and a deposition about the Constand encounter as evidence against him at the trial.

Notably, Wyatt dangled the possibility to reporters at the trial that Cosby might take the stand in his own defense. He didn't.

Wyatt did not respond to questions about whether speaking publicly about sexual assault could be risky for Cosby before a second trial.

Meanwhile, advocates for victims of sexual assault began weighing in on Cosby's plan. Lisa Bloom, the California lawyer who represents one of Cosby's accusers who's suing him in civil court, called the plan "disgusting."

"In no rational world should Bill Cosby be permitted to talk to kids, or anyone, about sexual assault," Bloom said. "This is a man who admitted under oath to drugging women for sex. This is a man accused by sixty women of sexual misconduct, spanning decades."

"It would be more useful if Mr. Cosby would spend time talking with people about how not to commit sexual assault in the first place," said Jodi Omear , spokeswoman for RAINN (Rape Abuse Incest National Network).

Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet, the women's rights group, said Cosby's plans amount to a "how to get away with rape and sexual assault" tour and a "disgusting display of rape culture in action."  She warned any venue that hosts Cosby will be considered "complicit in promoting sexual violence against women and can expect UltraViolet members to hold them accountable.”

Although it may seem like a lifetime ago now — following nearly three years of toxic headlines about the five dozen women who have accused Cosby of being a serial sex offender dating back to the mid-1960s — Cosby, the Hollywood icon once known as "America's Dad," is no stranger to lecturing kids.

In recent years, he had gained notoriety as a moralizing scold for publicly chastising young people, especially African-American youths, for their bad behavior, their hats on backward and their "pants down around the crack."

It was because of these widely covered remarks that comedian Hannibal Buress called him out as a rapist in an October 2014 stand-up routine that was caught on video and went viral, thus letting loose a flood of accusations against Cosby.

 

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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