My Three Cents


There’s an old adage that says, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” I would add one more certainty to the list: scandals. There’s plenty of evidence to bolster my assertion.

I’ll bet that you can recall the sordid details of the scandals involving many of the following eight high-profile CEOs and celebrities: Martha Stewart, Donald Sterling, Roger Goodell, Kenneth Lay, Tony Hayward. Jerry Sandusky and Bernie Madoff.

No one ever seems to learn that — when it comes to a crisis — honesty and transparency are usually the best cards you can play. History shows that stonewalling just doesn’t work. Witness the sad end to the career of a beloved icon: Bill Cosby, the 77-year old comedian, actor, author and educator…”America’s Dad.”

After comedian Hannibal Buress referred to Cosby as a “rapist” during a < a target="_blank" href="http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-the-standup-clip-that-got-bill-cosby-in-trouble-again-2014-11">video that subsequently went viral, the accusations of sexual abuse on Cosby’s part have snowballed, seriously damaging his career, despite the fact that he has never been criminally charged with sexual assault.

On November 22, Cosby < a target="_blank" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/24/women-who-have-accused-bill-cosby_n_6211290.html">said, “I know people are tired of me not saying anything, but a guy doesn’t have to answer to innuendos.”

My sense is that there is strong public sentiment against Cosby. It is unlikely that all of the approximately < a target="_blank" href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/11/21/bill_cosby_accusers_list_sexual_assault_rape_drugs_feature_in_women_s_stories.html">20 women involved are frauds. In fact, the < a target="_blank" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/bill-cosby-paid-women-ex-nbc-employee-article-1.2020464">Daily News has revealed that, during the Cosby show heyday, NBC helped pay many of these women not to talk, in order to protect its investment and obvious rewards.

  1. I see three possible scenarios:
  2. Bill Cosby continues to stonewall. No criminal charges are brought. His constituency continues to erode and he becomes a curious relic of the past.
  3. Cosby is tried, convicted of sexual abuse, and sentenced to a jail term. His current career is probably over.
  4. Many of the alleged crimes happened decades ago and, in some jurisdictions, the statutes of limitations apply … so it’s entirely possible that Bill Cosby may be tried and acquitted of sexual abuse. In this case, he could redeem himself and preserve his considerable legacy, but he’ll have to work very hard to restore his reputation.

What remedies would I recommend to Bill Cosby after he has dealt with the legal issues?

  • First and foremost, Cosby should assemble a group of friends and relations (including his wife and daughters) who never lost faith in him … and let them scream his innocence and good works from the fences.
  • Cosby should identify women whose entertainment careers he’s helped (and who haven’t been victimized) to speak on his behalf.
  • He should serve on the boards of and donate money to organizations dedicated to preventing sexual abuse and sex trafficking, such as The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
  • To demonstrate his respect for women and his belief in their integrity he should activate in organizations such as Catalyst, the U.S. non-profit focused on women’s career growth and opportunities.

Fundamentally, when the guilt-innocence-criminality issue is resolved, Cosby needs to go on national television and have a forthright conversation with the public, so he can regain their trust, much like Bill Clinton has done a few times in his life.

thought leadership

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