“I’m Going to Reserve My Judgment”: Whoopi Defends Cosby

The women of The View weighed in this morning on the allegations of rape swirling around comedian and sitcom icon Bill Cosby. In response to the accusations made by former actress Barbara Bowman in a Washington Post op-ed, the foursome of Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O’Donnell, Rosie Perez and Nicole Wallace all urged caution in rushing to condemn the TV legend. Goldberg voiced the strongest report, even questioning why Bowman never sought help from the authorities:

“Quite honesty, you know, look, I’m sorry, having been on both sides of this where people allege that you do something, it doesn’t matter now,” Goldberg said. “The cat is out of the bag, people have it in their heads. I have a lot of questions for the lady. Maybe she’ll come on.”

After playing a clip of Bowman claiming no one believed her at the time of the incidents because of Cosby’s stature, Whoopi argued that the police or the hospital might have and wondered aloud why she never had a rape kit done. When Rosie O’Donnell pointed out that Cosby has settled with women in some of the cases, Goldberg made pains to say that “settlements don’t necessarily mean you’re guilty.”

“I hope that there is justice for this lady. I hope somebody gets to the bottom of this,” she continued, “but I’m going to reserve my judgment because I have a lot of questions, as I said. It’s crazy, but I have a lot of questions, because I know we all have friends who have gone through this.” By “friends who have gone through this,” she appeared to be talking about celebrities who were falsely accused, a situation she called “awkward.”

“It’s more than awkward, it’s a tragedy!” Nicolle Wallace responded. “Either 13 women were raped by someone too powerful to face the criminal justice system or an innocent man is being falsely accused.”

Cosby was the subject of a 2004 civil lawsuit filed by Andrea Constand, who accused him of drugging and raping her in his Philadelphia home. Although the case was settled out of court, lawyers for the plaintiff insisted they had spoken with 13 other women willing to confirm similar assaults. Though long-rumored, the allegations were not thrust into the public eye until a clip of comedian Hannibal Buress calling Cosby a rapist went viral:

This was followed by an epic social media implosion by Cosby, as a request on his Twitter account to “meme” him turned into an avalanche of rape jokes juxtaposed against his jovial, “Cosby Show”-era visage.

In her piece last week, Bowman wondered why her claims, which she had voiced previously, are only now gaining traction:

While I am grateful for the new attention to Cosby’s crimes, I must ask my own questions: Why wasn’t I believed? Why didn’t I get the same reaction of shock and revulsion when I originally reported it? Why was I, a victim of sexual assault, further wronged by victim blaming when I came forward? The women victimized by Bill Cosby have been talking about his crimes for more than a decade. Why didn’t our stories go viral?

She was joined by a second accuser on Sunday, when former actress Joan Tarshis spoke of her own alleged encounter on the website Hollywood Elsewhere:

“One day he asked me to stay after the shooting and work on some material with him. I was even more flattered and thought this would help move my writing career along. In his bungalow he made me a redeye, and I began to tell him about the earthquake Los Angeles had just had and the sound it made. He liked my ideas for an earthquake bit.

“The next thing I remember was coming to on his couch while being undressed. Through the haze I thought I was being clever when I told him I had an infection and he would catch it and his wife would know he had sex with someone. But he just found another orifice to use. I was sickened by what was happening to me and shocked that this man I had idolized was now raping me. Of course I told no one.”

Cosby has refused to comment personally on the allegations, and an upcoming appearance on David Letterman’s show has been canceled. His lawyer defended his client against the accusations, saying in a statement, “Over the last several weeks, decade-old, discredited allegations against Mr. Cosby have resurfaced. The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true. Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment. He would like to thank all his fans for the outpouring of support and assure them that, at age 77, he is doing his best work. There will be no further statement from Mr. Cosby or any of his representatives.”