There has been quite a bit of admiration expressed for Bill Cosby’s lawyer Monique Pressley. She’s been likened to the morally bereft but still likable Annalise Keating from ABC’s hit show “How To Get Away With Murder.” The Grio said that even those who maintain that Bill Cosby is guilty, still celebrate Pressley’s greatness. People have called her “Johnnie Cochran in a skirt” and one person tweeted:
And I have to admit Pressley is talented. She’s sharp, quick witted, intelligent, fast talking and will insult any doubters, naysayers and journalists with a smile. She’s the perfect combination of nice nasty you’d want in an attorney, should you ever find yourself in some trouble.
I’ve gleaned all of this by watching a series of YouTube videos where Pressley went up and held her own against probing CNN, MSNBC and Huff Post Live anchors.
But even before all of this media attention, Pressley was quite accomplished. According to her website, she received her law degree from Howard University before going to work as a public defender for the District of Columbia. She practiced complex civil litigation and white collar criminal defense in Maryland before beginning to work at the Attorney General’s office. During this time she was also an adjunct professor at Howard University’s School of Law.
She’s the principal at her own law firm and the mother of two children, a boy and a girl.
And to top it all off, she’s an ordained minister.
It’s really too bad that many of us only came to know her for defending Bill Cosby.
Because, despite all of her accomplishments and the poise with which she carries herself in front of the cameras, all I keep wondering is how does she sleep at night?
Perhaps, she’s one of the Black folks who believes Bill Cosby is too great, too philanthropic, too benevolent to the Black community to have allegedly raped or sexually assaulted over 50 women. And that’s certainly her right. But being a woman who deals with facts, numbers, human nature and patterns of behavior for a living, I don’t see how she could.
I imagine that as Bill Cosby’s attorney, she’s likely poured over document after document, in Bill Cosby’s decade long association with these allegations, including parts of the deposition where Bill Cosby admitted giving Quaaludes, a sedative, to women for sex, parts of the deposition that haven’t been made available to the general public. She’s probably seen some things.
When asked about that part she said that the drug was commonly used in the ’70’s and said,
“I don’t think anyone is arguing that my client kept a stack of these Quaaludes in his medicine cabinet for two decades.”
Why wouldn’t anyone be arguing that?
In other interviews, she’s alleged that they haven’t been on the market for sometime now, as if that would prevent Bill Cosby, a very rich, powerful and influential man from obtaining them if he so desired.
When asked about Bill Cosby’s damning Spanish Fly conversation, in a televised interview with Larry King, where Cosby’s eyes light up with glee as he discusses how all boys from age 11 until death will be searching for Spanish Fly to coax, manipulate and control women, Pressley told CNN,
“Do people do things forty years earlier that they consider acceptable and then no longer consider them acceptable when it’s forty years later? Certainly…”
Pressley went on to say that even though she’s only 45, she did things she regrets, 30 years ago, as a young teenager. But there’s a difference between doing something foolish as a teen and allegedly committing decades worth of crimes. And if you committed a crime thirty years ago, something as heinous and life altering as rape and sexual assault, you should still suffer the consequences for those “unacceptable behaviors.”
In almost all of her interviews, specifically the one with Marc Lamont Hill, Pressley keeps asserting the fact that these women waited years, even decades, before reporting their rapes or sexual assaults. It’s the same thing so many of us have seen on our Facebook feeds. And it’s victim blaming.
Marc Lamont Hill had to politely remind her that, according to the FBI, less than 2 percent of rape victims offer false claims and half of rape and sexual assault victims come forward when they have been raped, particularly when it’s intimate rape, someone they know, not a stranger in a dark alley. He had to remind her, a woman, that even if these women did wait decades to come forward with their stories, they would be well within their rights to do so as victims of this crime.
That’s when Ms. Pressley starts toting the merits of the American justice system and how we should ask ourselves to trust its process. Because there have never been any mistakes made in the American justice system. Meanwhile Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, Sandra Bland and Eric Garner’s blood is still crying from the ground. Like Mr. Cosby these were Black people too. Unlike him, they don’t have money for themselves and haven’t made millions of dollars for White men.
Interestingly enough, later in that same interview Pressley talks about the history of rape allegations from White women, being lodged against Black men.
“We have to remember in terms of the allegations that would have been coming forward in the late ’60s and ’70s, that Bill Cosby was still then, as he is now a Black man in America. And I find it incredulous to believe that none of the majority White females who are saying that something was done to them that was inappropriate by an African American male, in the late 60s and 70s, that none of them would have been believed. Because if we look back on our own history and see what was happening in those times, nothing could be further from the truth. As a matter of fact, he would have been target number one in those days and I’d argue in these days. He would have been target number one then and he is now. So, it’s hard for me personally, not speaking on behalf of Mr. Cosby, but speaking as someone who is student of history, to think that one, two, ten, twenty, however many women had allegations, had accusations, that they wouldn’t have been heard or listened to and that when they went to a friend or they went to a confidante or when they went to a police department that they wouldn’t have been taken seriously enough in those days. I’m not saying whether it’s true or not, I’m saying that based on what I know of our country and our country’s history and when we look back on the kinds of things that were being done then to African American males then that’s hard to believe.”
I guess, as a student of history, Pressley hasn’t seen the ways in which the justice system leans and bends toward people who have money. And maybe in her years of working with the criminal justice system she hasn’t seen the ways in which women are doubted and receive little support when they report a rape, often making a traumatic experience even worse. I’m sure the women who were allegedly raped and sexually assaulted by Mr. Cosby were well aware of these facts, particularly in the 60’s and 70’s when society was less concerned about rape culture, victim blaming and treating women fairly, than we are now.
Listen, I get that Ms. Pressley has a job to do. And as someone who has to defend a man with a reputation as tarnished as Cosby’s is right now, she’s doing a pretty good job. I just don’t see any honor in it. At all.
I think that there are people who simply take pleasure in watching Pressley make mostly White news anchors seem unprepared, uninformed and unintelligent. But there’s a larger part of me that believes that the reason Pressley is being so heavily celebrated is because she is doing what Black women are supposed to do. Defend Black manhood, particularly the Black patriarch, to the death, even if that Black man is dead wrong.