CHICAGO (CBS) — Sexual assault accusations are rarely comedic fodder for performers, but comedian Hannibal Buress, who was born in Chicago, doesn’t seem afraid to include them in his set — even when they’re against legendary comedian Bill Cosby.
Hannibal Buress, a comedian who’s appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, along with sitcoms like 30 Rock, Louie and Broad City, brought up the accusations while performing at the Trocadero, a club in Cosby’s hometown of Philadelphia, on Thursday, October 16th (though the accusations appear to have been a joke he’d sometimes include in his routine previous to this performance).
In a video that can be seen on PhillyMag.com (warning: language), Buress questioned Cosby’s criticisms of young black men, implying Cosby’s a hypocrite considering the multiple sexual assault accusations that have come to light over the past decade.
“He gets on TV, ‘Pull your pants up black people, I was on TV in the ’80s! I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom!’ Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches.”
Is there any truth to Buress’ joke?
Andrea Constand, director of operations for Temple University’s women’s basketball team, alleged in a past civil lawsuit that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in 2004. Tamara Green, a lawyer from California, alleged on the Today show that Cosby drugged and assaulted her in the 1970s. Thirteen other women would go on to anonymously allege similar assaults by Cosby in Constand’s civil suit. One of those women, Beth Ferrier, would later go public, accusing Cosby of drugging her coffee, saying she woke up in a car with her clothes a mess and her bra undone. A full timeline of these events can be seen at Vulture.com.
Despite accusations from at least 15 women, Bill Cosby biographer Mark Whitaker left any mentions of sexual assault out of his recent book, Cosby: His Life and Times.
“In these cases, there were no definitive court findings, there were no independent witnesses, and I just felt, at the end of the day, all I would be doing would be, you know, ‘These people say this, Cosby denies it,'” the author told HuffPost Live. “And as not only a reporter but his biographer, if people asked me, ‘Well, what’s the truth? What do you think?’ I’d be in a position of saying ‘I don’t know.'”
It’s true that a district attorney in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania decided not to bring criminal charges against Cosby after Constand’s accusations, citing a lack of evidence. Cosby did later settle with Constand in her civil lawsuit, though the terms were not disclosed.
While some feel like they’re just learning about these accusations now, others have wondered why the public hasn’t cared about them in the past. Which asks the question: why, after ten years of accusations that have been previously reported, is this story just now gaining traction?
UPDATE 11/17/2014 2:45 pm: Bill Cosby’s lawyer has released a statement stating that Cosby will not dignify “decade-old, discredited” claims of sexual abuse with a response. A correction for the statement was later issued, stating that the blanket denial in the first statement did not include Andrea Constand, whose civil lawsuit against him was settled in 2006. According to the new statement, the civil lawsuit was “resolved to the mutual-satisfaction” of both parties.