The higher they rise, the harder they fall. That may be an appropriate summary for the life of Bill Cosby, whose fall from grace seems to now be almost complete.
On Thursday, the famous comedian and television star was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. That verdict marked the end of a long legal battle spanning many years, with as many as 60 women accusing him of drugging and raping them, among other allegations.
Now, adding insult to injury, Cosby has received more bad news: A prestigious honorary degree will be stripped from him immediately.
“The Johns Hopkins University has decided to rescind Bill Cosby’s honorary degree, hours after a jury returned a guilty verdict on charges the comedian drugged and molested Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home 14 years ago,” reported The Baltimore Sun.
“As a university, we stand in firm opposition to sexual assault, whether on our campuses or elsewhere,” Hopkins spokesman Dennis O’Shea stated. “This decision underscores that opposition.”
Cosby held the honorary degree since 2004, which ironically is the same year he sexually assaulted Andrea Constand, leading to his recent conviction. Johns Hopkins University reiterated that they did not know about the allegations at the time.
The comedian has not yet been sentenced, but jail time is certainly not off the table. That could mean a de facto life sentence for Cosby, who is 80-years-old and in poor health.
It’s a disappointing final chapter for a man who was once one of the most famous people in America. Bill Cosby became a household name — and face — during the 1970s and 80s, with his much-loved “The Cosby Show” influencing culture for at least a generation.
Cosby was seen by many as a positive black role model. With actress Phylicia Rashad, the onscreen duo of Cliff and Clair Huxtable — a doctor and a lawyer, respectively — was a frequent reminder that America was a land of opportunity for anyone willing to work hard, regardless of their skin color.
It turns out that much of Cosby’s fatherly persona was a facade, and there was a much more sinister side of the comedian when the cameras were off.
“Today, we’re finally in a place to say that justice was done. … We now know who the real Bill Cosby is,” stated District Attorney Kevin Steele, the prosecutor in the case.
Steele referenced a moment during the trial when Cosby became enraged, jumped up, and hurled obscenities at the attorney.
“Everybody got a brief view of who he really is,” Steele said, according to USA Today. “He was an actor for a long time. It was an act.”
For dozens of women, the resolution of the Cosby case enabled them to breath a sigh of relief that the long nightmare was finally over.
“The Cosby verdict is a long-awaited and symbolic victory for many survivors of sexual violence,” said Kristen Houser, spokeswoman for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
“It brings hope that justice can be served when victims are finally ready to enter the court system, that it is possible for the truth to be heard, even if it is years after the assault,” she explained.
There are many lessons from Cosby’s slow fall from glory. One is just how filthy and corrupt Hollywood seems to be, with many of its most famous stars now exposed as criminals and sexual predators. Perhaps Tinseltown should look in the mirror before so often lecturing the rest of the country.
The biggest takeaway, however, is that fame cannot conceal a rotten character forever. It may be able to mask it temporarily, but truth and reality have a way of coming to the surface. We should remember that, before we put any smiling figure on a pedestal.
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