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President Obama needs a refresher course on rape law, and the guts to condemn Bill Cosby

By Wendy Murphy    Jul. 22, 2015

For The Patriot Ledger
July 16, 2015

Earlier this week, President Obama spoke at the annual convention of the NAACP and declared this country’s criminal justice system “skewed against black men.”  He also said black men suffer much harsher penalties compared to white men who commit the same crimes.

Hearing the President’s remarks, I thought only about Bill Cosby, and
how he hasn’t suffered any penalties at all.

Days before Obama’s speech, it was reported that Cosby admitted under oath to obtaining sedatives for the purpose of drugging women for sex. But Obama said not a word about the criminal justice system’s inadequate response to Cosby’s actions, leaving many to wonder – Isn’t Bill Cosby a black man?

It’s hard to feel sympathy for the plight of persecuted black men with Cosby constantly in the news — facing not a single criminal charge. There’s little chance people will ever care about the very real problem of injustices perpetrated against black men so long as Bill Cosby evades justice with the President’s tacit approval.

Obama’s two daughters are the ages of several of Cosby’s victims (a couple of victims were only 15), and Obama said in a speech in 2014 that he understands the way sexual assault causes lifelong harm to victims, yet he continued to ignore the suffering of Cosby’s victims, even as he tried to address the story during a press event this week when a reporter asked him about Cosby’s admission to drugging women.

Obama replied that if a woman is drugged without her knowledge, and then a man has sex with her “without her consent,” it is rape.  The President needs a refresher course in rape law.  Drugging a person without their knowledge makes the sex act rape.  It is not necessary to also prove non-consent.

And why didn’t the President say anything supportive about the victims?

It wouldn’t have been politically controversial because nobody with a conscience has supported Cosby for a long time. All the President had to say was, “Bill Cosby does not deserve this nation’s respect, and if our criminal justice system is inadequate to redress his actions on behalf of the victims, then we need to fix the system.”  Obama could also have said, “the problem of racism in our prison population is made worse by the favorable treatment of wealthy black men, and if we are ever going to treat all black men fairly, we cannot show favoritism toward wealthy men of any color.”

The President should have said say those things, but he didn’t, because women don’t matter very much in this country compared to wealthy men like Bill Cosby. This is the harsh truth about violence against women generally.  Under the law, the word of one victim is sufficient to prove rape, but when the offender is a rich guy, even dozens of victims and a confession don’t cut it, not because the evidence isn’t strong enough but because too many prosecutors care less about women, and more about funding their re-election campaigns.

Cosby is accused of dozens of sex crimes, from the 1960s through the mid-2000s, in at least ten different states, but not a single law enforcement official has called for Cosby to be prosecuted.  Some news stories blame the statute of limitations, but in most states the clock stops running when an offender leaves the jurisdiction, and there’s no doubt Cosby “left” many of the states where incidents took place.

This “stopping of the clock” exception is why so many priests faced child sexual abuse charges even decades after the abuse ended.

At least 17 victims reported incidents in California, where Cosby has a home, so it’s too late to file most of those charges, although one of the 17 was in 2008 and is clearly within the window of opportunity. Why isn’t the District Attorney in Los Angeles jumping at the chance to file SOME charge, so that SOME justice can be done for all the California victims?

Other incidents allegedly occurred in Michigan, Illinois, Georgia, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Colorado.  In most of those states, criminal charges are still possible because Cosby hasn’t spent enough time there for the clock to run out.  The District Attorney in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania admitted as much about a 2004 incident, but he said in 2005 that the evidence was “insufficient” to prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt.  Someone should ask him if he still has such an absurd view of the evidence, and if he does, he should be run out of office.

Even if criminal charges are never filed, President Obama should declare his support for Cosby’s victims and explain why violence against women, like racist violence, is a civil rights issue.  And he should state in no uncertain terms that all sex offenders should be held accountable, including wealthy black men.


By Wendy Murphy    Feb. 01, 2014


Fourth-AmendmentThe United States Supreme Court will soon decide whether our Constitution’s Fourth Amendment requires police to get a search warrant before looking at data inside cell-phones and other devices they find in the custody of people they arrest. The Court first addressed the issue many years ago and held that a cop may conduct a warrantless search if done “incident to a lawful arrest.” But that case is decades old and was decided at a time when the things that could be found on a person’s body were limited to weapons and contraband, or stolen items in a purse or backpack under the arrestee’s control. The Court now has to reconsider that ruling because today’s technology enables people to carry on their person infinite amounts of personal information, especially in smartphones and laptops.

The Fourth Amendment states that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated …” The Supreme Court has held, in the past, that warrantless searches of arrestees are not unreasonable because the urgencies of an arrest require preservation of evidence and protection of public safety. Plus, people under arrest have reduced privacy rights and the intrusion is usually minimal because people can’t carry a lot of stuff on their person.

Read the rest of this article »


By Wendy Murphy    Jan. 17, 2014


Family-CourtA colleague of mine, Anne Stevenson, recently testified before the Connecticut legislature on behalf of good parents and ethical court employees who feared retribution if they spoke up themselves against the corruption, fraud and shady deals in Connecticut’s family court system.

The content of her testimony is critically important, and not widely understood, so I agreed to post it here to provide folks with a better understanding of how the “divorce industry” in Connecticut is ruining families financially, and subjecting children to dangerous custody arrangements.

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When it comes to crime, semantics matter …

By Wendy Murphy    Sep. 21, 2013

Three and-a half years ago, I penned a piece warning that Massachusetts’ new anti-bullying law would be useless, if not harmful, because it allowed schools to …read the article here.


By Wendy Murphy    Aug. 18, 2013

*Keeping Students’ and Parents’ Eyes Wide Open on Campus Sexual Assault*

Parents don’t like hearing that college is a dangerous place but statistics show that sexual assault, especially in connection with drinking, occurs with shocking frequency.

In fact, girls who go to college are at greater risk of being raped than are girls who do NOT go to college. This fact seems galling considering that federal civil rights laws such as Title IX and Title IV guarantee girls EXTRA protection from sexual assault in college – compared to laws in the real world.

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Ohio kidnappings are civil rights crimes

By Wendy Murphy    May. 19, 2013

Anyone with a beating heart and an ounce of humanity can barely watch the news from Cleveland without sobbing. It’s not hyperbolic to say that if the charges are true, 52-year-old Ariel Castro committed crimes of torture that make the atrocities at Abu Gharib seem pleasant.  …read the article here.

WENDY MURPHY Give the gift of your presence …

By Wendy Murphy    Apr. 24, 2013

Regular readers of this column will recall a three-part series I wrote in the summer of 2011 about a woman struggling with a fatal condition called syringomyelia.

Annie developed the condition because of severe child abuse that involved actions too horrifying for even this bold columnist to put in writing. …read the article here.

WENDY MURPHY AND GAIL DINES How could … – The Patriot Ledger

By Wendy Murphy    Mar. 30, 2013

How could two average all-American teenage football players from small-town Ohio think nothing of sexually brutalizing an unconscious 16 year-old girl,  …read more


By Wendy Murphy    Mar. 18, 2013


CIn a curious petition drive making its way around the internet, spawned by an Alternet oped about the so-called Steubenville Rape Case, folks are being asked to criticize CNN for biased coverage that favored the perpetrators.


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