Bill Cosby will finally have his day in court. After 60 accusers and more than two decades since he was first called a sex abuser and rapist, the comedian has finally been charged. While the fallen icon has long been guilty in the court of public opinion, prosecutors will do their best to convict him in the court of law. His legacy has already been tarnished beyond repair, however, just like others before him, Cosby may avoid time with an Affluenza plea deal.
Affluenza is the rich man’s disease which became popular after a judge allowed young Ethan Couch to avoid time in a jail cell after killing four people. The teen’s defense team argued that he was too rich to really understand the consequences of his actions. It appears now that affluenza plays an intricate role in determining punishment. Has Cosby caught late-stage Affluenza? Could the defense be applicable in this situation where a man might feel so rich that he is above the law? Over the years, a host of women have spoken out against the funnyman, but Cosby suffered no real consequences for his actions.
Affluenza is not as new as some may believe, it first gained notoriety in the late 90s after a book titled, The Golden Ghetto: The Psychology of Affluence by Jessie O’Neill was written. She wrote the book as a manual for anyone seeking a more balanced relationship with money. O’Neill explains affluenza as a dysfunctional relationship with money, wealth, or the pursuit thereof. In the book, she identifies problems of the rich along with symptoms and causes.
Cosby, who has denied any criminal activity while admitting that he purchased Quaaludes in order to have sexual interactions with women, seems to fit the bill perfectly… except he is not a teen. He has felt so justified in his actions that under the direction of his legal team, Cosby went so far as to sue some of his accusers for defamation. Although hidden from the common eye, his character had been smeared for many years in Hollywood due to the same offense.
Lately, affluenza has come under intense scrutiny by the American public. Mostly being deemed a fictitious illness which allows the rich portion of society to get away with anything they desire void of true consequence. Is Cosby too rich and powerful to grasp a true understanding of consequences? Would this make an affluenza plea deal possible?
The criminal justice system as it stands today needs to be restructured. If people with an organic brain disorder like schizophrenia are forced to sit in solitary confinement, it is unjust to allow a spoiled brat, regardless of age, to walk free. Justice for a selfish teen and killer of four was a quick trip to a resort-like treatment facility while others who are less “fortunate” have landed in a jail cell for lesser crimes. Seemingly Cosby just has a bad case of the rich man’s disease which has been identified as affluenza which sends the message that money and privilege have the power to replace consequences. The “illness” may allow the accused sex offender to avoid jail time with an affluenza plea deal.
The cure for affluenza is prison. Dr. G. Dick Millert, the defense psychologist in Couch’s case, admitted regret for using the term. Debates continue to surface on the reality of affluenza; one cannot deny, however, that it breeds inequality. Perhaps, Cosby failed to receive an affluenza diagnosis in times past, because affluent people also have the finances to afford top-notch defense attorneys in times of trouble. His legal team will no doubt dig into an arsenal of tricks for the case… and who knows, Bill Cosby may end up avoiding jail time with the simplicity of an affluenza plea deal.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
National Post: ‘Affluenza’ isn’t a recognized diagnosis, experts say after ‘brat’ spared from jail in drunk driving case
CNN: The cure for ‘affluenza’ is prison
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