Bill Cosby needs to explain his past

The comedian. The family man. The rapist?

Bill Cosby, commonly known for playing Cliff Huxtable in ‘80s sitcom The Cosby Show, has been accused of sexual assault by 18 different women. Of the women, most have shared strikingly similar stories. They claim to have been drugged when they were in a comfortable setting and then sexually assaulted by Cosby. He has continued to stay silent despite the national attention he is receiving.

Cosby has been a good role for many black Americans since his start. He rose to stardom with his family-friendly approach to comedy, revolutionizing TV, showing an upper-middle class black family connected to their culture. He has lectured about proper behavior for black youths. He was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor any civilian could receive. He was the first black man to co-star in a TV drama. He continues to be a role model to many who want to break racial boundaries that still exist today. But how will this affect those who wish to be like him? Will this encourage future accused celebrities, guilty or innocent, to remain silent despite all the criticism? If they were to admit to the crime, would they still be loved like before? Cosby’s silence is hurting his image, not just for his audience but also for those who look up to him.

“Words and actions can be misinterpreted,” Cosby said about a lawsuit in 2004. “I’m not going to give in to people who try to exploit me because of my celebrity status.” The lawsuit was filed against him but was soon dismissed following claims the accuser and the accused had resolved their differences. It was settled out of court for an “undisclosed amount” in 2006.

This encouraged three other women to come to the media with their own stories of being sexually violated by Cosby.He had kept mum in the years following the settlement, as did as the media. That is until the issue came up again this year. On Oct 16, comedian Hannibal Buress called Cosby a “rapist” in his stand-up act, joking that he is a role model even though many women had accused him of assault. “No, no. We don’t answer that,” said Cosby in an Associated Press interview upon being asked about the criticism from Buress, repeating he had no comment about the allegations.

This encouraged many more women, both famous and not, to come to the public with their own detailed stories of Cosby violating them. Despite major cancellations and postponement of his NBC and Netflix programs, he still receives a crowd of fans at his comedy shows. But how long will he continue to receive applause from those who have looked up to him when he is suspected of violating so many women. Does he expect to ride these allegations out and wait another 10 years for more, or will he actually say something honest to set the record straight?

These allegations are putting Cosby in a horrible light, whether he is guilty or innocent. He’s setting a bad example for those who call him their role model. Cosby should address the public and give his side of all the stories that have against him.