May 7, 2018
Times change—and so do hearts and minds. Bill Cosby, once beloved as “America’s Dad” on The Cosby Show (1984-1992) was found guilty of three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault on April 26 in a Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, courtroom.
While a Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll conducted in January 1997 found that 90% of Americans held a favorable opinion of the comedian , TV star, and Jello spokesperson; a poll released on May 4 by Economist/YouGov found that 57% of U.S. adults believe that 80-year-old Cosby is guilty of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand in his Philadelphia home 14 years ago.
More than 50 women nationwide have accused Cosby of abuse, but Constand was the only alleged victim to get her day in criminal court.
African-Americans agree with the verdict, although by a smaller margin (38%) than the broader population. That represents a sea change from just after a mistrial was called in Cosby’s first trial last year. At that time, most African-Americans did not want to see a second trial and considered the entertainer to be innocent by a narrow margin.
According to YouGov, Americans, both black and white, prioritize the rights of victims over the rights of the accused. Six in ten believe it is more important to protect the rights of the victim, while 15% say protecting the rights of the accused matters more. At the same time (and by a similar margin), more say it is worse to convict an innocent person than to let someone guilty go free.
For many people, the crimes that Cosby was convicted of hit close to home: Fully 40% say they or a close friend or family member has been a victim of sexual assault. That knowledge crosses party lines, but the percentage is particularly high among women, nearly half of whom say they, a close friend, or a family member has been victimized in this way.
Cosby has not been sentenced yet. He and his legal team say that they will appeal the verdict.. more.