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Sunday, February 20, 2005

If there's no fire nor even smoke, there's always hot air — Riiiight?

The Associated Press reports that

Bill Cosby will not face charges stemming from a woman's allegation that he fondled her at his suburban mansion after giving her medication that made her woozy, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Authorities found insufficient evidence to support the woman's claims, Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. said in a statement.

But one of Dr. Cosby's hometown newspapers, The Philadelphia Daily News, breathlessly headlines its latest story with "D.A.'s dad aided Cosby's mansion buy":

MONTGOMERY County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr.'s father helped to arrange Bill Cosby's purchase of the mansion where Cosby was accused of drugging and groping a woman, but Castor did not reveal the relationship to the alleged victim or her attorneys.

"Mr. Castor did not disclose that to us or our client," said Dolores Troiani, who, with her partner, Bebe Kivitz, represents the alleged victim....

Joseph F. Lawless, author of the book "Prosecutorial Misconduct," criticized Castor's disclosure to Cosby's attorney and not to the alleged victim's attorney.

"That absolutely speaks volumes about what happened in this investigation," said Lawless. "You draw your own conclusions about what that means."

But before you "draw your own conclusions," you might want to keep reading:

Cosby bought the house on New Second Street in Elkins Park in June 1983, records show. Millionaire philanthrophist F. Eugene Dixon gave Bruce Castor Sr. the power of attorney to handle the sale to Cosby on June 8, 1983, records show. Dixon could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The elder Castor signed the deed on June 23, 1983, records show. The purchase price was $225,000, and the Cosbys paid cash, records show. Dixon and his wife, Helen, paid $275,000 for the home and property when they bought it in 1977, according to records.

Umm-hmmm. Damning stuff, that is! But closely parsed, that mumbo-jumbo about "power of attorney" means that the current DA's father — a distinguished civil probate, trusts, and estates lawyer, now age 75 — represented the seller of the house Dr. Cosby bought. Still, we're supposed to conclude that because the DA's dad represented a party adverse to Dr. Cosby in a noncontroversial real estate transaction twenty-two years ago, the prosecution tanked the current investigation.

As I remember Bill Cosby saying in the great "Noah" sketch from one of his comedy albums that I memorized as a kid and imitated ad nauseum to my friends: "Riiiiiiight!"

Friends and neighbors, if there was any remote, arguable, theoretical, speculative appearance of prosecutorial conflict of interest — "Dammit, Dad always bitched about how that TV star had outsmarted him on that house sale! It nearly drove him to an early grave! Finally, now's my chance to get even!" — it would have disadvantaged Dr. Cosby (not his accuser), and needed to be disclosed to him, if anyone.

But it's clearly a conspiracy! Look at the pattern!

Castor's failure to inform Troiani and Kivitz or their client about his father's role in the purchase of the mansion was just part of the shabby way he treated them, Troiani charged....

Lawless criticized Castor's statement, specifically his comments that "insufficient credible and admissible evidence" exists to prevail in a court of law.

"I think it was a wildly inappropriate statement," Lawless said. "It's tantamount to commenting on the veracity of the complaining witness, in my view. I think his statement is over the top. It's an editorial comment on the integrity of the evidence.

No, sir. It's a prosecutor explaining to the press how he exercised his legitimate discretion — discretion intended in part to prevent criminal charges from being brought against someone whom the prosecution concludes it cannot convict based on "credible and admissible evidence." How would (the aptly named) Mr. Lawless (who as a former prosecutor should know better) have preferred that the prosecutor announce his decision? "Well, we think he's guilty as hell, because he's a big star, after all, but we just can't prove it. Damned rules of evidence and such, that stuff lets the bad guys get away all the time. And lemme tell you about that time he snookered my dad on this house deal ...." Yeah, that would be highly professional.

Final (non)surprise: "Troiani and Kivitz said they likely will file a civil suit against Cosby in the next couple of weeks." Uh-huh. Riiiiiiight!

Posted by Beldar at 06:37 AM in Law (2006 & earlier), Mainstream Media | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to If there's no fire nor even smoke, there's always hot air — Riiiight? and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) DA Bruce Castor made the following comment | Feb 20, 2005 7:38:12 AM | Permalink

Thanks for the defense. By the way, the newspaper you quote from is the Philadelphia Daily News, not the Inquirer. The Inky tends to be more responsible than the DN which is just a step above supermarket tabloids. Regards.

(2) ncoic6 made the following comment | Feb 20, 2005 9:08:43 AM | Permalink


(3) Dave Schuler made the following comment | Feb 20, 2005 9:40:48 AM | Permalink

Bottom line: he's made enemies because of the Ebonics remarks.

(4) Robin Roberts made the following comment | Feb 20, 2005 10:53:04 AM | Permalink

Another example of the ludicrous forms of illusory "conflicts of interest" that people now employ to smear others.

(5) Beldar made the following comment | Feb 20, 2005 1:27:29 PM | Permalink

My pleasure, Mr. Castor. Newspaper name duly corrected above in text. (Confusingly at least to us non-Philadelphians, the site I linked from seems to frequently mention both; common ownership, perhaps, or an extraordinarily friendly rivalry, I dunno.)

(6) goober made the following comment | Feb 20, 2005 2:45:48 PM | Permalink

I don't get the outrage of you lawyer types. The lawyer guy is paid to have an insanely stupid point of view, because that's the only way he has a chance to get into the deep pocket nearby. And since everyone knows this, and all lawyers do this to some extent, big deal!

(7) Leo made the following comment | Feb 20, 2005 5:03:58 PM | Permalink

What's the statute of limitations in PA? In Mass, it's 3 years for civil matters, which would make filing a civil suit a bit useless.

(8) John Boyle made the following comment | Feb 20, 2005 9:16:33 PM | Permalink

When is someone going to notice that the Cosby accusations appeared shortly after Cosby's own crusade against the PC dogma of black oppression and victimnization hit the airways? Doesn't anyone remember Clarence Thomas' confirmation hearings? This is what this case, and its attendant slander carnival side shows, is about.

(9) Claire made the following comment | Feb 21, 2005 6:28:30 PM | Permalink

Yes, and I predict even more efforts to personally slander Mr. Cosby, because of the unpopularity of his position among the 'career victims' of the left. Since sex didn't work, I suspect they'll try drugs next. Just watch and see.

(10) Milhouse made the following comment | Feb 23, 2005 1:09:53 AM | Permalink

I think the point of the allegation is that Castor Sr didn't just represent the sellers, he actually sold the house on their behalf, and he did so on terms favourable to the buyer, and unfavourable to his clients. The evidence for this seems to be the fact that they made a $50K loss on the house, which they had held for six years; aseverybodyknows that never happens. Real estate investments are meant to be as safe as, well, houses; stands to reason, doesn't it? The S&L collapse of the late '80s must have happened because they invested in cattle futures and tulips instead of houses, right? Right?

So 22 years ago Castor Sr conspires with Cosby to rip off his clients, and now Cosby's got a hold over Castor Jr. Or something. Don't ask me, this isn't my fantasy...

(11) Carol Herman made the following comment | Mar 5, 2005 6:31:35 PM | Permalink

I loved that routine! God told Noah to build an Ark. (So, what's an ark? Then, what'a cubit? And, then the pregnant elephant delivering on the ramp. God forgot to warn Noah.) RIIIIGHT! Where have all the great comedic acts gone? That was such good stuff.

(12) Noelle made the following comment | Mar 9, 2005 6:05:26 PM | Permalink

I just saw Dan Abrams and friends try to slice and dice Troiani over her clients credibility.
This case once again highlights the ignorance of the public and, more distressingly, the professionals who deal with these things about the effects of sexual assaults on females.
Disassociation is a major coping mechanism.
When 20, I was violently sexually assaulted by a Boston City Cop. Who do you complain to when your assailant wears a gun and a badge?
I was always aware of the horrific incident but it was not until 30 YEARS later I emotionally erupted. I was riding in the back of a squad car as a witness to a crime, on the way to id the suspect.
I felt very uncomfortable in the car without knowing why. within 24 hours, in the midst of a normal conversation with a relative, I suddenly shouted, "and he held my head down really hard and I couldn't move!" My relative didn't know what the heck I was talking about and I was shocked at the words coming out of me totally unbidden."
I then set about to deal with the incident therapeutically and it has no force in my life.
The bastard, of course, has always been free.
Unbelief has always been the assailant's best accomplice.

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