How Bill Cosby Fell from Hero to Zero: Can He Bounce Back?

( [email protected] ) Dec 01, 2014 07:13 PM EST
Bill Cosby
Billy Cosby at his alma mater Temple University in 2011. (AP)

Legendary comedian Bill Cosby once had the awe and respect as a public statesman on American culture. Now, thanks to new allegations of rape by several women brought into the spotlight, his squeaky clean image has now perhaps been tarnished for good.

In fact, the controversy surrounding him has led Cosby, 77, to step down from his trustee position at Temple University today. He was a board member there since 1982, according to the Associated Press.

"I have always been proud of my association with Temple University. I have always wanted to do what would be in the best interests of the university and its students. As a result, I have tendered my resignation," Cosby said in a statement released by the university.

Temple University added in a statement that "The Board of Trustees accepts Dr. Cosby's resignation ... and thanks him for his service."

Although he may no longer face any legal criminal repercussions from those allegations of rape, it's quite clear that Cosby's reputation in the public square may never be fully restored. According to Dean Obeidallah in an op-ed for CNN, Cosby paid an undisclosed sum to Andrea Constand in 2006 to settle the civil lawsuit arising from the supposed sexual assault that happened in 2004.

"Cosby's career has been deeply damaged by the ongoing scandal and he has been denounced pretty much everywhere," Obeidallah wrote.

Obeidallah went on social media websites to ask what people wanted from Bill Cosby now. Based on the responses he received, a common theme emerged.

"It's clear that people, regardless of where they stand on the issue, want Cosby to publicly and directly address the claims," Obeidallah wrote. "After all, Cosby has made his living for decades speaking to the public as a comedian; his silence adds to the sense that he's hiding something."

Susan Berger of Huffington Post noted that Cosby has helped make sense of a mad world, especially during the civil rights era of the 1960s.

"While we didn't understand our world, Cosby made the little things funny and there was a universality to his humor," Berger wrote. "You didn't have to be black or white or rich or poor. When he took his microphone and made bump-bump noises that belonged to the chicken heart, when we saw the Huxtables, a black middle class family with the dad Cliff wearing his dad sweaters it felt right."

However, she had a theory on why Cosby's accusers were only coming forward with the rape allegations now.

"The world we lived in back then was a man's world," Berger wrote. "There were no strong powerful women in TV sitcoms."

Although he has not personally commented on the current allegations as of yet, Cosby told Mark Hensch of Christian Post back in 2011 about how Tim Tebow dealt with harsh criticism about his gameplay while at the Denver Broncos. In fact, it's probably safe to say he could be taking his own advice to heart in the midst of swirling rape allegations.

"There are stories in the Bible about people telling other people how to do things," Cosby said back in 2011. "When you hear this young man [Tebow] say 'we don't give up,' that's something human beings who win will tell you every time. Breaks will happen. When they happen, you keep the same mind about what you're doing. It's about we the people getting on with our lives and doing it that way."

Berger credits social media for bringing up these new allegations against Cosby.

"In spite of 40 years since the alleged acts, there are too many women with nothing to gain coming forward and it is simply impossible to believe it is all made up," Berger wrote. "We can thank social media for allowing us to hear these stories loud and clear. And although the statute of limitations has run out, it seems so has the world's love for Bill Cosby."

Regardless of whether or not the allegations are true, it's probable to think that Cosby is leaning on his self-described Christian faith to get through his current public crisis, based on comments he made back in 2011.

"If you have no faith, you've lost your battle," Cosby said. "You can't let things just happen. If you know right from wrong, and you know proof that certain things are true and people are telling you information to guide you and it's good solid information, then you should have it."

While it's clear that the court of public opinion has found Cosby guilty, Obeidallah noted that there is at least one upside to this otherwise tragic story.

"Will Cosby ever come forward and address the issues head on? Unlikely," Obeidallah wrote. "But the upside to this incident, if one can be found, is that the allegations have raised awareness about sexual assault."

Tags : bill cosby, Cosby rape allegation, bill cosby rape charges, Temple University