Dear Courageous Women,
You are owed far more than an apology, far more than this letter can even attempt to convey.
You were silenced, violated, and taken advantage of in the worst way by a man who betrayed your trust. Some of you were very young and forced to grapple with a trauma that's even harder to accept at such an important and already trying time in your life. And for that, I am truly sorry.
You were grouped into a perceived conspiracy to destroy the legacy of a cultural icon who used his wholesome image and philanthropic efforts to cover up his bloody tracks like some sort of predatory, sadistic Houdini. And for that, I am truly sorry.
I am sorry that your stories and personal testimonies weren't considered enough. Sorry that the collective chorus of more than 40 brave and courageous women armed with similarly horrifying stories held little ground against that of one man. Sorry that it's so hard to believe a woman when she "cries" rape, a negative trope that has been used to paint women as crazy and to trivialize the heinous act of rape in and of itself. It's birthed from the same crooked logic that allows a man to think that a woman "wants it," especially when her consent is denied. And for those of you who felt you couldn't come forward out of fear of ridicule or shame, again, I am truly sorry.
As the number of accusers steadily grew, so did the accusatory questions hurled your way: "What were you doing alone with him? If he really drugged or raped you, why didn't you talk sooner?" Questions that suggested you were the monster, you were the one to blame. "Clearly, she's trying to extort money. She's just mad because her television career didn't pop off." People didn't take heed of your stories in the here and now. But what makes them so sure you would have been believed in 1969, 1975 or any other decade spanning the more than 40 years that Bill Cosby has been accused of sexual assault?
I am sorry that Bill Cosby and his legal team fought tooth and nail to keep the 2005 court deposition in which he admitted to obtaining Quaaludes to administer to women he intended to have sex with under wraps. While it does not prove rape, I'm sorrier still for what it leaves out, for the questions Cosby was prevented from answering. I am sorry that his rights were more protected than your own. Sorry that he has never been criminally charged. Sorry that most of the accusations of sexual assault are barred by statutes of limitations that further protect him and people like him but not you.
I am sorry that Bill Cosby hid in plain sight behind the thick veil of patriarchy, money, fame, power and influence. Sorry that his holier-than-thou head was so far crammed into the billowy clouds of moral righteousness that he managed to convince some of us that his word was bond. Sorry that if he is indeed guilty of all that he's been accused of, he knew full and well exactly what he was doing. Yet he continued to do it time and again, using drugs and alcohol in an attempt to wipe the slate clean.
I am sorry for the women in his life – his wife, Camille, and his children. Coworkers who considered him family. Mentees.
Bill Cosby has yet to publicly admit his wrongdoings, but that day may never come. I am sorry he's not the one apologizing to you now, although nothing he has to say could possibly make up for all the damage he's done and pain he has inflicted. It's safe to say Bill Cosby is only sorry the world now knows the truth, but that pales in comparison to what you are owed.
"Sorry" will never be enough, but maybe it can aid you in your ongoing road to recovery.