Does Presumption of Innocence Matter? Bill Cosby's Not-So-Sudden Problem

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Bill Cosby

Jell-O Pudding. Fat Albert. Rape allegations. One of these things is not like the other -- one of these things just doesn't belong.

It might seem that these last few weeks have seen an outpouring of allegations against America's favorite dad, Bill Cosby. It might seem that way, but in truth this has been a rumor that's been simmering for a long time.

The fuse to these flare-ups appears to trace back to stand-up comic, Hannibal Buress. Well, not directly, because he picked it up from your average Google search, but he does bring up the allegations in his stand-up routine when he attacks Cosby's "smug old man" attitude toward modern black society. From that point on, one alleged victim after another has begun popping up like mushrooms after a spring rain.

In point of fact, these rumors go back a number of years, even beyond 2006 when Cosby paid off an accuser in an out of court settlement. That's his right to do so, and it certainly doesn't insulate him from the protection afforded by our courts that a man is presumed innocent until proven guilty. But in the eyes of many, if someone accuses you of something so heinous -- and you didn't do it -- you don't pay them off just because it's easier. You fight it, tooth and toenail, down to your last breath if you have to. Because if you settle, even if it's extortion, nobody is going to believe you did it just to grease an annoying squeaky wheel. The fact that new "squeaks" are starting to be heard now -- and they're not all coming from anonymous corners, but from names like Janice Dickerson, Joan Tarshis and Carla Ferrigno -- doesn't help his defense.

Is Bill Cosby guilty or innocent? At this point, what a court says no longer seems to matter, as corporations and contracts flee from the entertainer like cockroaches from a light bulb. NBC has cancelled their planned project for a new television show, TV Land has stopped all reruns of THE COSBY SHOW, and Netflix has nixed the November 28th standup special BILL COSBY 77. It's not a matter of guilt or innocence, the allegation's the thing -- and in Hollywood, the allegation's enough.