Bill Cosby is losing those who want to believe in his innocence at a rapid clip.
Whoopi Goldberg has, if not exactly defended Cosby, has repeatedly spoken out against racing to convict the comedian in the media. But now that nearly four dozen women have come forward to accuse Cosby of either sexual assault or attempted sexual assault, Goldberg's point of view has finally shifted.
Cosby, through his attorney, has denied the allegations, though an unearthed deposition in a civil suit from 2005 shows that he admitted to acquiring drugs to give to women he wanted to have sex with.
"If he was arrested, which he hasn't been, the legal standard would be proof beyond a reasonable doubt and he would be innocent until proven guilty," ABC News legal analyst Dan Abrams explained in a one-on-one sit-down with Goldberg this morning on The View.
"Fifty women allege he sexually assaulted them and drugged them and, basically, as a serial rapist why is he still on the street?" Goldberg wondered. "He's never been arrested or put in jail. How is that possible."
"A couple reasons," Abrams offered. "There are women reluctant to come forward. I think they were ashamed or embarrassed."
"What about the 50 who did?" she countered.
"Look, I think early on some of them didn't come forward," Abrams said. "The reason now that effectively nothing can be done..."
"Nothing?" Goldberg interjected.
"Nothing," he repeated. "Pretty much nothing. There's a defamation suit, et cetera. But as a legal matter it's because the statute of limitations has expired both on civil and criminal in the states this was alleged to have happened. That's a legal technicality. It is fair to say when you look at that you say, 'Really? That's the reason?' It's because of a statute of limitations. It sure feels like a technicality. When you look at the totality of these cases, I think that the public put aside a courtroom can say you know what, wow, it doesn't just look like he did it, he admits that he gave quaaludes to young women to have sex."
And yes, there is a statute of limitations on rape cases, but there is also currently a movement forming to change the law, Abrams added.
Expressing her disbelief that nothing can be done, legally, at this point, Goldberg said, "That's a shock to me because I always thought that if you could take somebody to court, then you could have the accuser say 'that's who did it, this is what it is,' but you're saying that all that is left to these women is the court of public opinion?"
"Right," Abrams said. "I think that together, though—together they make a much more compelling case so to speak. It is impossible to ignore the consistency of these stories."
Goldberg has long preached the likes of "innocent until proven guilty" when it came to Cosby, but she has since decidedly changed her tune.
"What we have learned is there's no recourse for these women except what they're doing," the Oscar winner continued. "If this is to be tried in the court of public opinion, I got to say all of the information that's out there kind of points to guilt."
"You got a serial rapist, he's been on the streets for 30 years," she also said. "I have to say I thought that yeah, here's all the information, take his ass to jail. I find out from you that that's not possible. So I can't say any more 'innocent until proven guilty' because there's no way to prove it. We are the only proof that folks have. We're the only backup they have."
"If he wants to get his side of the story out, he can sit down and talk in depth but he's been very careful not to say a word about this," Abrams said. "And the reason is because anything he says can and will be used against him."
"Yes. You know, so we know. It looks bad, Bill," Goldberg added. "Either speak up or shut up. Because people know now that there's a lot more out there than they thought. Thank you. Also, please contact your state representative and ask about the statute of limitations on cases like these."
Meanwhile, one of Cosby's former co-stars didn't mince words when it came to the ongoing situation.
"Of Course Bill Cosby Is Guilty" is the title of a post Joseph C. Phillips added to his website.
"I love Bill Cosby! Honestly, that phrase may not be enough to sufficiently describe my feelings for Bill. He was my boyhood idol," Phillips, who played Lisa Bonet's Navy officer husband Martin on The Cosby Show, began his essay.
But over the course of his lengthy post tracing the arc of his admiration for, and ultimately conflicted feelings about, Cosby, Phillips concludes: "Bill, you have a family who loves you, a wife who is devoted to you; you have more money than you can spend. Please, go live a quiet country life. Allow those of us who truly love you to preserve just a bit of our enchantment."