It’s been less than a week since Bill Cosby’s trial for sexual assault ended in a mistrial, but the public relations campaign to reclaim his image as America’s father figure is already well underway. Though more than 50 women have accused him of sexual misconduct, his spokesman told Fusion this week that Cosby nevertheless has a great deal to teach people about what he characterized as an epidemic of false sexual assault allegations.
Representatives for Cosby said on a local Alabama television on Wednesday that they’re planning on hosting a string of town hall meetings this summer to educate young people—including married men and male athletes—about how to avoid facing allegations of sexual misconduct. What’s more, Andrew Wyatt, a spokesman for the comedian, confirmed to Fusion that Cosby will personally be involved in the sessions, using his own story to caution people against what Wyatt described as the insidiousness of false rape allegations.
Wyatt said that, while the planning for the events is still in the preliminary stages, Cosby’s team has received “hundreds” of phone calls from churches and civic organizations requesting that Cosby come speak with young people. He declined to name any of these groups, but said calls had come from places like Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Birmingham.
“These groups felt that so many young people today are caught in those situations, and they thought Mr. Cosby would be a a great person to speak on it because of what he’s dealing with,” Wyatt told Fusion.
He went on to draw a direct parallel between the case against Cosby—in which one his accusers, Andrea Constand, alleged that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her—to racial disparities in the justice system, where black defendants are more likely to be offered plea deals, more likely to be held in jail before they’re arraigned, and significantly more likely to be incarcerated than white Americans.
“When you look at the prison system today, it’s populated with black—well more black and brown—because those people had to take deals,” he told Fusion. “We see every day now, people being released from prison that didn’t commit crimes that they were accused —sexual assault crimes they didn’t commit—because of DNA that wasn’t present at those times.”
Neither physical evidence nor DNA played a role in Constand’s case, which began more than 13 years after she alleges Cosby drugged and assaulted her. Constand was not examined by a doctor after the incident, which Cosby repeatedly maintained was consensual, though he did admit in a deposition related to a civil lawsuit brought by Constand in March 2005 that he gave her Benadryl and also acquired Qualuudes to provide to women he wanted to have sex with.
“We received so many calls from family members saying, my son, my daughter is going through this situation, but no one’s going to tell that story because they don’t have a recognizable name, and they’re doing time, unnecessary time, because of alleged allegations with no evidence,” Wyatt said. (False rape allegations are statistically rare, and it’s even rarer for a false allegation to end in prison time for the accused.)
“Imagine, across this county, how many people are going through this situation today,” Wyatt added.
As Wyatt and Cosby’s attorneys tell it, the comedian was the perfect target for District Attorney Kevin Steele, who ran what Wyatt has characterized as “Willie Horton-style” campaign ads promising to bring Cosby to justice if elected. Wyatt also suggested that the prosecutor was motivated to go after Cosby at least in part by higher political aspirations like joining Donald Trump’s administration. (Steele is a Democrat.)
Although Cosby’s legal troubles are far from over—there are still numerous civil cases open, brought by at least 13 accusers in three states—Wyatt emphasized that Cosby is eager to “use his voice and his celebrity to educate those people on what they should be doing and what they should not be doing.”