On Tuesday, a Pennsylvania judge ruled that there is enough evidence to proceed with a criminal trial for Bill Cosby, accused of sexual assault, in the 2004 case of Andrea Constad, the first of over 50 accusers. He could be sentenced to 30 years in prison. I see four lessons.
1. Actions have consequences. History is filled with examples. We all get to choose our actions, but not our consequences. Bill Cosby, if found guilty, could spend the rest of his life in prison, as the sentence brings prison time of at least 10 years. He is accused of drugging and raping women, many of whom may be called on to testify in this case.
2. Judgement plays no favorites. No one is beyond the reach of the law. Bill Cosby was named the second most favorite comedian of the 20th century (only behind Bob Hope). He is 78 years old and in declining health. While he countersued Constad, claiming their sex was consensual, the judge has found the evidence against him to be credible.
3. This doesn’t take away the good Cosby has done. Bill Cosby was Dr. Huxtable, America’s dad. He has served on boards, given millions of dollars to charity, and blessed Americans for over 50 years, with clean humor and a message of high morals. Good men do bad things and bad men do good things. This is not to excuse his despicable behavior (if proven true). But it does remind us that even the most frail among us can be used for good.
4. God forgives when man does not. I would never ask Mrs. Constad to forgive Mr. Cosby for what he did 12 years ago (again, if proven true). Only the true Forgiver can set that standard. It is hard to imagine anything worse than what Cosby is accused of doing, short of taking a person’s life. Having said that, as hard as it is for us to imagine, nothing – I repeat, nothing – we ever do puts us beyond the reach of God’s forgiveness.
Is Mr. Cosby guilty? I don’t know. But I do know this. There is nothing Cosby can ever do that will make God love him more. And nothing he will ever do will make God love him less.