Editorial Observer: Gimme Shelters, Manhattan


Editorial observer

Midtown residents mount shameful battle against a city homeless shelter.

Mara Gay

The plan to turn the Park Savoy Hotel in Midtown Manhattan into a men’s homeless shelter has drawn a range of reactions.CreditTodd Heisler/The New York Times

In the August heat two years ago, residents of Maspeth, Queens, learned of a homeless shelter planned for their neighborhood and erupted in fury, unleashing a campaign of vulgar, racially tinged protests. Maspeth residents picketed the hotel that the city hoped to convert into a permanent shelter, spewing hate as homeless children sat inside.

They voted the local councilwoman, Elizabeth Crowley, out of office, replacing her with the man who had led their crusade.

They shouted down Steven Banks, commissioner of the city’s Human Resources Administration, as he appealed to their sense of compassion during a community meeting, then took their protest to the doorstep of his Brooklyn home.

“Leave Maspeth Alone!” some of their signs read. “Maspeth Lives Matter!” The city ultimately surrendered.

Now, a similar battle is unfolding in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, as residents fight a men’s shelter the city plans to open in the now-shuttered Park Savoy Hotel. The site, on West 58th Street, is one of 90 that Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he will open as part of a yearslong plan.

In Maspeth, a mostly white, blue-collar area of Queens, the news of a homeless shelter was met with something barely short of a riot. On West 58th Street, a block from Central Park, residents have taken a more urbane approach: They formed a committee, the West 58th Street Coalition, to fight the shelter, built a sleek website and hired a public relations expert to make their case. Curiously, they also sought the help of Robert Holden, who beat Ms. Crowley in the Maspeth council race.

Diane Cahill, the public relations consultant, told me recently that the shelter was just as bad for the homeless men as it was for the community because the neighborhood was so expensive. Plus, she said, there had been those stories about homeless men masturbating in public. “That’s what you want tourists and children and families to have to walk by?” Ms. Cahill asked.

Opponents of the West 58th Street shelter speak in more polite and polished tones than their counterparts in Queens. But when it comes to homeless New Yorkers, the message is often the same from Midtown to Maspeth: Not on my block. Not in my backyard.

“I’m concerned about how people we serve who are homeless are being stigmatized,” said Mr. Banks, who oversees the city’s homelessness initiatives.

It isn’t only white, or wealthy, neighborhoods that are rejecting shelters. In Crown Heights, a diverse, fast-gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood, many residents reacted angrily to the news that the city planned to open three new shelters. At a community meeting, some accused city officials of brushing aside their concerns after they had been cowed by the opposition in Maspeth.

Still, it’s become clear that the city would open the shelter on West 58th Street over residents’ objections.

“I’m worried about the safety of my family,” Helen Ohw Kim, who lives on the block, said at a news conference the group held last month outside the hotel. Ms. Ohw Kim said the site would be better served as a shelter for women and young children, so “my 3-year-old daughter won’t get punched in the face.” Other residents said they were also willing to accept a shelter for single women with young children. How young? Under 10 years old, they said, leaving unclear what would happen on a child’s 11th birthday.

City officials have said they were forced to abandon the Maspeth shelter when the owner of the hotel they had hoped to use backed out. But even in an administration that has at times shown little backbone when it needs to stand up for its liberal principles, some de Blasio aides privately talk about the episode as a shameful retreat. They say they are likely to site a shelter in Maspeth in the coming years. And administration officials say that from here on, they are determined to open the shelters, regardless of community opposition.

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Suzanne Silverstein heads the coalition opposed to the proposal for the West 58th Street shelter.CreditTodd Heisler/The New York Times

City officials say they are open to compromises. One proposal for a men’s shelter in Crown Heights, for example, was changed to serve senior men at the request of the community.

About 60,000 New Yorkers are living in the city’s shelter system, a crisis created by soaring rents that have pushed housing out of reach for those living in poverty. About 22,000 of those people are children. Roughly one-third of families in shelters are working, but are homeless anyway, according to city officials. Thousands of others are simply people in need, and that is reason enough to help them.

Mr. Banks said the city planned to move forward with the men’s shelter on West 58th Street and open it by early summer. He said the space in the former hotel wasn’t set up to serve families. And he said the city’s shelter system was in desperate need of a facility where working men could have easy access to jobs in Midtown. “These are men that need a helping hand — not the back of the hand,” he said.

That includes men like 27-year-old Ronnie Jones, a communications manager for a security company in Manhattan who is living in a shelter until he can get back on his feet. Mr. Jones said he was renting a room for $600 a month in Queens a couple of years ago when he lost his job at a cleaning company and was homeless within a month. Mr. Jones told me that he grew up in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, one of the poorest areas of the city, but had big dreams despite getting little support from family or friends.

“It’s just me,” he said. “But I refuse to be anything other than great. It’s about your mentality. You gotta be ambitious, have blind ambition.”

Community resistance to shelters for men slows the process.CreditTodd Heisler/The New York Times

As Ridership Surges, Ferries to Get $300 Million to Expand Service


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Responding to overwhelming demand, Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to announce that his administration would commit an additional $300 million over the next five years to expand the commuter ferry service.

Credit
Christian Hansen for The New York Times

Mayor Bill de Blasio is doubling down on his major investment in a commuter ferry service for New York City as officials respond to what they say is a far bigger demand than had been anticipated.

On a ferry dock in Brooklyn, Mr. de Blasio announced on Thursday that his administration would commit an additional $300 million over the next five years to expand the service to accommodate twice as many riders as initially projected. Officials planned to quickly add more than half a dozen boats to the fleet to increase capacity as more people move into waterfront communities.

The mayor said he was responding to the overwhelming demand for the heavily subsidized service. Among the changes Mr. de Blasio intended to announce was a rush-hour express run between the Rockaways and Lower Manhattan, providing a nonstop cruise from one of the farthest reaches of the city to Manhattan’s financial district for the cost of a subway ride.

Setting the ferry fare to match the subway fare was an innovation of Mr. de Blasio’s administration. Before he took office, the city was subsidizing a limited ferry service on the East River that charged as much as $6 per ride.

But Mr. de Blasio wanted to present the ferry service as an alternative to the overcrowded and failing subway system. He committed about $390 million to build docks in waterfront neighborhoods that were poorly served by the city’s public transit system and to hire a company to build and operate a fleet of boats.

The city launched the service a year ago and quickly found that it had underestimated demand for boat rides that cost just $2.75. Last summer, the city had to scramble to charter boats larger than its fleet of 249-passenger vessels.

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Camille Cosby Compares Husband’s Conviction to Lynching


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Bill and Camille Cosby during the trial in April. She blamed the media for his guilty verdict and called for an investigation of prosecutors.

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Tracie Van Auken/EPA, via Shutterstock

Camille Cosby, the wife of the disgraced comedian Bill Cosby, disparaged the media, Mr. Cosby’s accusers and his prosecutors in a caustic statement released Thursday, her first public comments since Mr. Cosby was convicted of sexual assault last week. She called for a criminal investigation of the Montgomery County district attorney and repeatedly suggested that Mr. Cosby was targeted because of his race.

In a three-page release, Mrs. Cosby explicitly blamed the media for Mr. Cosby’s fate in court, citing what she called a “frenzied, relentless demonization of him and unquestioning acceptance of accusers’ allegations without any attendant proof.” She went on to say, “Bill Cosby was labeled as guilty because the media and accusers said so.”

Once again, Mr. Cosby was compared to Emmett Till, a black 14-year-old who was lynched in 1955 after being falsely accused of leering at a white woman. Last week, Mr. Cosby’s publicist, Ebonee Benson, went on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and likened Mr. Cosby to Till.

This time, it was Mrs. Cosby.

“Since when are all accusers truthful? History disproves that,” she said in her statement, adding, “Emmett Till’s accuser immediately comes to mind.” Mrs. Cosby also cited Darryl Hunt, an African-American who wrongfully served 19 years in prison after being convicted of a 1984 murder. He was released in 2004, years after DNA evidence cleared him of the crime.

She also accused Andrea Constand, whose sexual assault complaint led to the conviction, of perjury, saying that her testimony was filled with “innumerable, dishonest contradictions.”

A lawyer for Ms. Constand, Dolores M. Troiani, said in a statement, “Twelve honorable people — a jury of Cosby’s peers — have spoken. There’s nothing else to say.”

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Why One Woman Testified Against Bill Cosby: ‘I Had the Strength’


Then, this month, she appeared in a Pennsylvania courtroom. Sitting on her hands because they were shaking so much, she became one of the few of Mr. Cosby’s dozens of accusers to face him again, helping secure his felony convictions on Thursday for sexually assaulting a former Temple University employee.

“I realized I had the strength to look in the face of somebody who would commit a crime like this,” Ms. Lublin, 51, said in a phone interview from her Las Vegas home. “I knew I was strong enough to say, ‘You won’t whip me, you won’t hold me down, and you won’t shut me up.’”

That the jury convicted Mr. Cosby on retrial, after a hung jury last summer, might be attributed in part to the new cultural awareness born out of the #MeToo movement. But in his remarks after the verdict, the Montgomery County district attorney, Kevin R. Steele, praised the witnesses for their courage, saying they were crucial to the case. He also called each of them separately to convey his gratitude, and, choking up, told Ms. Lublin that, because she and the other witnesses had stepped up, they were able to win the case.

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Ms. Lublin with her husband, Benjamin, during a break in her testimony on April 12.

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Mark Makela/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In 1989, Ms. Lublin was 23, living in Las Vegas, her hometown, and modeling to help pay for college when she was summoned by her agency to meet Mr. Cosby. Guessing he had seen her portfolio pictures, she went.

On their second meeting, she said, he invited her to his suite at the Las Vegas Hilton, because he wanted her to practice improvising, even though she wasn’t an actor. He gave her alcohol to relax, she said, and soon afterward she felt woozy and sick, like she might topple.

Mr. Cosby beckoned her over, she said, pulled her down between his legs, so that her back was against his groin, and began stroking her hair. Ms. Lublin remembers wondering why he was doing that, and that she couldn’t understand a word he was saying. She has a few fractured memories of being guided by him down a hallway of the suite, and then nothing, until she woke up at home in her bed.

Ms. Lublin was mortified, but not, at the time, because of anything Mr. Cosby might have done. “I looked at it as ‘Oh my god, Lisa, you got sick from alcohol; you don’t even remember how you got home,’” she said.

When Mr. Cosby reached out to her again, and even forged a friendship with her mother, she felt reassured: Maybe her blackout behavior hadn’t been that bad. Ms. Lublin said she and Mr. Cosby met several times after that — though never alone — and that at his urging, she began running at a track as he looked on.

When bystanders asked what Mr. Cosby was doing there, Ms. Lublin said he replied, “I’m out here with my daughter, Lisa.” (Lisa is the name she goes by.) Eventually they fell out of touch.

After Ms. Dickinson went public with her story late in 2014, Ms. Lublin began reconsidering what really happened at the hotel that night.

“I started to kind of accept that, yeah, something has happened to you,” she said. Her mother, outraged at feeling hoodwinked herself, began calling television shows, and Ms. Lublin found herself on “Dr. Phil,” publicly recounting her story for the first time.

It took her six weeks to muster the courage to file a police report, but when she did, a detective told her there was nothing they could do; too much time had passed.

Ms. Lublin felt like she had been punched, but then rebounded. “I’m a fighter,” she said. In 2015, she successfully urged Nevada legislators to extended the statute of limitations for bringing forward rape charges to 20 years from four years, though the change does not apply retroactively.

Ms. Lublin said she never hid what was going on from her children, a daughter who is now 11 and a son, now 13, or from her sixth-grade students, who sometimes came up after class, asking if was it her they had seen on TV. “Yes,” she said she replied, “And I’m working to change laws to protect you.”

When vicious online comments about her — detractors called her a “liar” and a “whore” — inevitably surfaced, one student wrote back, “Ms. Lublin’s my teacher, and she’s a wonderful person.”

In 2017, as prosecutors were preparing to try Mr. Cosby on charges of sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, the former Temple employee, detectives contacted Ms. Lublin and told her she might be called as testify as a “prior bad acts” witness who could help prove a pattern of criminal behavior by Mr. Cosby.

“One of the reasons the district attorneys picked Lisa was when they heard her talking about him petting her hair,” her husband, Benjamin Lublin, said. “That was a marker for them.”

She wasn’t called for Mr. Cosby’s first trial. Then, in mid-March, just before the Lublins left for a spring break cruise to Mexico, the confirmation came. Ms. Lublin was going to be one of five women called to bolster Ms. Constand’s testimony. The district attorney’s office flew her and her husband to Philadelphia on a red-eye flight April 9.

A few days later, a detective picked them up from their hotel and drove them to the courthouse. They were deposited in a witness room, where they played with Turks, the russet Labrador therapy dog the prosecutors had brought in to soothe people’s nerves.

To further loosen things up, Mr. Lublin set up his Bluetooth speakers, began playing his favorite country singer, Jon Pardi, and pulled out a favorite card game, Sequence.

Early in the afternoon, a court officer came and escorted Ms. Lublin, her husband by her side, to a courtroom door near the jury box. Ms. Dickinson, who had just testified, emerged from the door. The pair embraced, and then Ms. Lublin stepped in.

“Just get safely to the podium, and don’t trip,” she told herself. The witness stand seat surprised her — it was like a bar stool with a back. She sat down, and began slowly scanning the courtroom. “Take this in,” she said to herself.

She spotted Gloria Allred, the lawyer who had handled some of Ms. Lublin’s publicity and represented many of Mr. Cosby’s accusers, including some in the courtroom, women Ms. Lublin had become close with over the years. She avoided meeting their eyes. “Locking eyes would expose my vulnerabilities, and I’d either cry or laugh,” she said.

She wanted to come across as calm and poised, and sat tall. Only after that did she see Mr. Cosby, far off to her left, in the corner, not looking her way. “He looked pitiful,” she said.

The only person she felt slightly intimidated by, she said, was Mr. Steele, the district attorney. “He’s got eyes of steel too,” she said.

She suddenly got the chills, and felt herself quaking, so she shoved her hands under her thighs. “The shaking was uncontrollable,” she said, “but my mind was clear.”

A prosecutor, Kristen Gibbons Feden, questioned her for an hour, and then turned it over to one of Mr. Cosby’s lawyers, Kathleen Bliss. Ms. Lublin had girded herself for a grilling, but compared with Ms. Bliss’s questioning of Ms. Dickinson, whom she would later call a “failed starlet,” Ms. Lublin said her own cross-examination felt almost toothless.

She said Ms. Bliss pressed for inconsistencies in Ms. Lublin’s old statements about changing Nevada’s statues and about meeting with Ms. Allred. Ms. Lublin found herself bickering with Ms. Bliss, getting snippy and worn down, but she never wavered. “The story doesn’t change when you tell the truth,” she said in the interview last week.

Ms. Lublin was back in her classroom of 25 sixth graders on Thursday when her husband called with news of the verdict. Hours later, at home, she still found herself stunned, and pacing. “At some point,” she said, “I just gotta let myself feel.”

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Bill Cosby Is Guilty. What’s Next?


Dennis McAndrews, a Pennsylvania lawyer who has followed the case closely, said that the most likely scenario, because of Mr. Cosby’s age and the similarity of the counts, is that Judge Steven T. O’Neill will merge the counts and base the sentencing on just one count. As a result, Mr. Cosby will probably face a maximum sentence of 10 years.

How long will Mr. Cosby be free on bail?

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Mr. Cosby was ordered to stay at his home in Elkins Park, Pa., as part of the agreement under which the judge allowed him to stay free, on bail, until his sentencing.

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Matt Rourke/Associated Press

No sentencing date has been set, but that would typically occur within two to three months. Until then, Mr. Cosby remains free on $1 million bail but is essentially confined by order of the court to his Pennsylvania home until the sentencing hearing.

Ms. Ashcroft said Mr. Cosby had not been shown any special treatment when he was allowed to leave on bail. Bail would have been revoked if he were an especially dangerous risk to society or was a flight risk. Where he did have an advantage was the ability to meet the $1 million bail, she said.

Now his lawyers will probably ask Judge O’Neill to postpone Mr. Cosby’s incarceration until after their appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court is decided. Weighed against that, however, is any flight risk, something emphasized by the district attorney, Kevin R. Steele, at the trial on Thursday.

In the interim, experts said, Mr. Cosby will be classified as a sex offender and will be required to register with the state police.

Where might Mr. Cosby serve his sentence?

Inmates with short sentences often serve them in a county jail, but Mr. Cosby is likely to enter the state correctional system, experts said. Susan McNaughton, communications director for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, said the state has 22 institutions to care for men, and it was too early to say which one he would go to. All are set up to cope with elderly inmates, and there is no facility that is especially designated for such prisoners.

What are the grounds for an appeal?

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Mr. Cosby’s sentencing will be held inside the courthouse where he was tried, the historic Montgomery County Courthouse.

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Corey Perrine/Associated Press

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS Mr. Cosby’s spokesman mentioned that issue as a likely ground for appeal in a conversation he had after the verdict. Mr. Cosby’s lawyers argued in court that there is little evidence that the sexual encounter with Ms. Constand occurred in January 2004, as she testified. Any earlier and the state’s 12-year statute of limitations would have expired by the time he was charged in December 2015.

TESTIMONY FROM THE FIVE ADDITIONAL WOMEN Ordinarily, prosecutors cannot introduce evidence or accusations of prior bad behavior. It is viewed as too prejudicial for a jury as it considers the facts of the single case before it. But here five women were allowed to describe their own encounters with Mr. Cosby. The judge did not provide a legal reasoning for his decision to allow five, compared with one other accuser he permitted to testify at the first trial, and the introduction of evidence like this has been allowed in other cases, but several experts said it is a likely target of the defense team.

“This is an enormous issue that is going to be argued on appeal,” said Shan Wu, a former sex-crimes prosecutor in Washington.

THE JUDGE’S REFUSAL TO RECUSE HIMSELF Defense lawyers had sought to have Judge O’Neill replaced before the trial because the judge’s wife has been an active supporter of sexual assault victims. Judge O’Neill would not recuse himself, and experts said higher courts have typically not viewed spousal affiliations as grounds for judicial recusal, but the defense could revisit the topic.

THE DEFENSE’S INABILITY TO INTRODUCE EVIDENCE FROM SHERI WILLIAMS Ms. Williams, a friend of Ms. Constand, testified during Ms. Constand’s civil suit against Mr. Cosby. But Mr. Cosby’s lawyers had sought to have her testify at the trial, and when they could not find her, they asked that her deposition testimony be read to the jury. It’s unclear what the defense hoped to show with Ms. Williams’s testimony, but The Associated Press reported that the defense thought it would show that Ms. Constand was not as unaware of Mr. Cosby’s romantic intentions as she had indicated.

The judge denied, reasoning that prosecutors had been unable to cross-examine the witness when she gave the deposition. Mr. Wu said the defense’s inability to produce this witness may be something they emphasize on appeal, especially since the prosecution was allowed to bring five prior bad acts witnesses.

THE JUROR WHO WAS KEPT ON Before the retrial started, the defense lawyers had asked to bar one of the jurors who had been selected to hear the case. They said the juror had been overheard by another prospective juror saying he thought Mr. Cosby was guilty. After several hours of discussion with both sides, Judge O’Neill ruled that the juror could continue on the case, but he never made his reasoning publicly known.

What happens to the civil suits?

The review of Mr. Cosby’s behavior is now likely to shift to the arena of the civil courts, where he has been sued by several women. Many of the women are suing him for defamation because, they say, he or his staff branded them as liars by dismissing their allegations as fabrications. The suits had mostly been delayed, pending the outcome of the criminal trial but are now likely to draw momentum from the guilty verdict.

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Cosby Verdict Is Hailed a Breakthrough. Here’s Why It Was an Anomaly.


On Friday, one of Mr. Cosby’s publicists, appearing on “Good Morning America,” compared Mr. Cosby’s case to that of Emmett Till, a boy who was lynched in 1955 on suspicion that he had flirted with a white woman, who later denied that he had done so.

Ms. Constand broke her silence since the verdict on Twitter, saying, “Truth prevails.”

But truth has an arduous path.

Delayed reporting by victims makes the collection of physical evidence nearly impossible and can trigger the protection of statute of limitations laws. The police, prosecutors and juries may also question why they waited so long.

Alcohol or drugs are often involved in such cases, which can affect the memory, as can trauma. The presence of mind-altering substances can encourage juries to focus on the actions of the victim, instead of the accused.

Prosecutors may be reluctant to bring charges in a case that they think they cannot win. And even if a case reaches the courtroom, juries may accept that sex occurred but question whether it was consensual, asking for physical evidence of resistance or injury that may not exist.

Taken together, the standard to win a criminal conviction — beyond a reasonable doubt — is usually insurmountable, analysts say.

Ken Broda-Bahm, a jury expert with the law firm Holland & Hart, said that while jurors might believe the woman, they might not believe that prosecutors had met that high legal bar.

“On the other hand,” he said, “the public standard is, ‘What do you think happened?’ which jurors are specifically asked not to do.”

In New York, the Manhattan district attorney’s office is investigating a claim by Paz de la Huerta, an actress, that Harvey Weinstein raped her on two different occasions in 2010, and an allegation that Mr. Weinstein forced an acting student, Lucia Evans, to perform oral sex during a business meeting at his office in 2004.

Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the district attorney, has been criticized for failing to act on an earlier complaint against Mr. Weinstein, and the police have said that they developed a strong criminal case based on Ms. de la Huerta’s account. But Mr. Vance has said his office is still gathering evidence.

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Harvey Weinstein in 2017 at the Cannes Film Festival.

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Yann Coatsaliou/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Earlier this month, Mr. Vance appointed to the investigation a new prosecutor who is known for winning convictions in cases with little physical evidence. But in 2011 the prosecutor also recommended throwing out a sexual assault indictment against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, after the reliability of the complainant, a hotel housekeeper, came into question.

In Los Angeles, prosecutors are investigating a claim that Mr. Weinstein raped a woman in a hotel room in 2013, according to the Los Angeles Times. The woman did not immediately report the crime, so no rape kit was taken, the paper reported. Mr. Weinstein is also under investigation for a sexual assault in London.

In all, Mr. Weinstein has been accused of rape, assault or sexual misconduct by more than 80 women. Representatives for Mr. Weinstein have denied the criminal allegations, saying that any sex acts were consensual.

Russell Simmons, a music industry executive, has also been accused of sexual assault and other crimes by at least 10 women. He has denied having sex that was not consensual.

Three women who said their assaults took place in New York — Tina Baker, Drew Dixon and Toni Salle, each of whom said Mr. Simmons raped them in incidents between 1988 and 1995 — said they spoke with a detective from the N.Y.P.D.’s cold case squad, a part of the Special Victims Unit. However, the detective cautioned them that their allegations could not be prosecuted because the incidents occurred outside the statute of limitations. The detective told them their accounts would be kept on file for potential use should a more recent case surface.

The statute of limitations for sexual assault in California — where a number of the allegations against Mr. Simmons and Mr. Weinstein have been made — had until recently been 10 years.

But in the wake of the allegations made against Mr. Cosby, California eliminated statute of limitations protections for sexual assaults in 2016. The new rule applies only to crimes committed after Jan. 1, 2017. New York abolished the statute of limitations on rape in 2006, but there is still a five-year limit for other types of felony sexual assault and two years for misdemeanors such as groping.

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office announced that Mr. Toback, 73, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by scores of women over decades, would not be charged in five separate investigations because the incidents were beyond the statute of limitations.

The Los Angeles Times has reported that hundreds of women had come forward to complain about Mr. Toback, who has denied wrongdoing.

Even without statute of limitations laws, an extended period between a crime and a report makes cases very difficult to prove, said Ms. Ashcroft, the former sex crimes prosecutor. And victims themselves are often regarded as unreliable, she said.

“Victims are vulnerable and because they are damaged, they often do not make good witnesses,” said Ms. Ashcroft. “The passage of time also often blurs their memories and brings inconsistencies. And in a trial in which there are only two people who know what happened, that is the cornerstone of who you believe.”

In assault cases lacking physical evidence or corroborating witnesses, Ms. Ashcroft said she would sometimes have to convince superiors to allow her to pursue charges.

Skeptical judges would pressure prosecutors to agree to plea deals “to get rid of pesky sex crime cases,” she said, or ask, “Why are you trying this case?”

“There are layers and layers of obstacles to bringing a sexual assault case,” Ms. Ashcroft said.

One critical difference between Mr. Cosby’s mistrial and his conviction was that in the second trial, Judge O’Neill allowed five women in addition to Ms. Constand to testify. Each said they believed Mr. Cosby had drugged and sexually assaulted them. In the first trial, only one other accuser had been allowed to testify.

Mr. Cosby’s lawyers are likely to raise the decision to allow the additional testimony on appeal, because ordinarily evidence of prior bad behavior is not permitted.

“Even though it is the first celebrity #MeToo case, it is not typical,” said Deborah Tuerkheimer, a law professor at Northwestern University and former prosecutor.

The law, Ms. Tuerkheimer said, responds slowly to social change: “Unless and until #MeToo has penetrated to every member of society, when you choose 12 people at random, there’s just no telling what’s going to happen.”

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Bill Cosby’s Publicist Invokes Emmett Till to Discredit Accusers


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Bill Cosby and his publicist Ebonee Benson walked through the Montgomery County Courthouse during a break in his sexual assault retrial. Ms. Benson invoked Emmett Till’s case when asked whether the dozens of women who have accused Mr. Cosby of sexual assault were lying.

Credit
Pool photo by Mark Makela

Bill Cosby’s publicist on Friday compared his sexual assault conviction to the plight of Emmett Till, the black teenager who was lynched and disfigured in Mississippi in 1955 after he was wrongfully accused of flirting with a white woman.

Mr. Cosby was convicted on Thursday of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman, Andrea Constand, at his home 14 years ago. More than 50 other women have accused him of sexual abuse.

Till, by contrast, was 14 years old in 1955, when a white woman accused him of flirting and whistling at her. Four days later, a group of white men forced their way into the home where he was staying and abducted him. He was beaten, shot in the head and thrown into a river. His body was found three days later, mutilated so badly it could be identified only by the ring he was wearing.

His accuser, Carolyn Bryant Donham, later told a historian that Till had not been menacing or sexually crude toward her.

On Friday, during an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” one of Mr. Cosby’s publicists invoked Till when asked whether the dozens of women who have accused Mr. Cosby of sexual abuse were lying.

Cosby supporters react to verdict Video by ABC News

“Since when are all people honest?” the publicist, Ebonee Benson, said. “And since when are all women honest? We can take a look at Emmett Till, for example. Since when are all people honest?”

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Bill Cosby’s Publicist Invokes Emmett Till to Discredit Accusers


Photo

Bill Cosby and his publicist Ebonee Benson walked through the Montgomery County Courthouse during a break in his sexual assault retrial. Ms. Benson invoked Emmett Till’s case when asked whether the dozens of women who have accused Mr. Cosby of sexual assault were lying.

Credit
Pool photo by Mark Makela

Bill Cosby’s publicist on Friday compared his sexual assault conviction to the plight of Emmett Till, the black teenager who was lynched and disfigured in Mississippi in 1955 after he was wrongfully accused of flirting with a white woman.

Mr. Cosby was convicted on Thursday of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman, Andrea Constand, at his home 14 years ago. More than 50 other women have accused him of sexual abuse.

Till, by contrast, was 14 years old in 1955, when a white woman accused him of flirting and whistling at her. Four days later, a group of white men forced their way into the home where he was staying and abducted him. He was beaten, shot in the head and thrown into a river. His body was found three days later, mutilated so badly it could be identified only by the ring he was wearing.

His accuser, Carolyn Bryant Donham, later told a historian that Till had not been menacing or sexually crude toward her.

On Friday, during an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” one of Mr. Cosby’s publicists invoked Till when asked whether the dozens of women who have accused Mr. Cosby of sexual abuse were lying.

Cosby supporters react to verdict Video by ABC News

“Since when are all people honest?” the publicist, Ebonee Benson, said. “And since when are all women honest? We can take a look at Emmett Till, for example. Since when are all people honest?”

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Critic’s Notebook: Cliff Huxtable Was Bill Cosby’s Sickest Joke


“Just like us” was the dream of the show, right? “Best behavior” blackness. That’s one way to think about it, the cynical, uncharitable, myopic way, the way you’d think about it if you wanted to psychologize Bill Cosby as Cliff Huxtable.

I couldn’t have known how vertiginous the entire Huxtable project was. I was, like, 10, 13, 15 years old when the show was a thing. But eventually, I could see that Cliff became a play for respectability. This is how you comport yourself among white people, young black child. Take a little bit of Howard with you on your way to Harvard. But then, in 2004, at an NAACP ceremony commemorating 50 years since the Brown v. Board of Education decision, he gave the notorious “Pound Cake” speech, where prodding for a particular kind of self-betterment turned tsk-y. He compared incarcerated black men to jailed civil rights activists, the apples and oranges of the black criminal-justice crisis. He ruminated on names that didn’t seem, to him, like Bill.

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Mr. Cosby in 1966, the year he won an Emmy for “I Spy.”

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Max B. Miller/Archive Photos, via Getty Images

“We are not Africans,” he said. “Those people are not Africans, they don’t know a damned thing about Africa. With names like Shaniqua, Shaligua, Mohammed, and all that crap and all of them are in jail.” Maybe this was Cliff unplugged — and unhinged. Mohammed? But it was a dare to flirt with distance, to reconsider all those applications I filed, to see Bill Cosby as someone who, despite hours of comedy like “Bill Cosby Is Not Himself These Days” and “Bill Cosby: Himself,” might not be willing or able to see who “himself” actually is. I called this a speech, but he performed it like another standup special.

This is the heavy thing about this verdict. The sorting of the ironies has been left to us. Mr. Cosby made blackness palatable to a country historically conditioned to think the worst of black people. And to pull that off, he had to find a morally impeccable presentation of himself and his race. This is what Sidney Poitier, his friend and movie partner, was always up against: inhabiting the superhumanly unimpeachable. But Mr. Cosby might have managed to pull a fast one, using his power and wealth to become the predator that white America mythologized in a campaign to terrorize, torture and kill black people for centuries. Mr. Cosby told lots of jokes. This was his sickest one.

Mr. Cosby’s guilty verdict happens to fall during a week in which Kanye West brought a lot of people a lot more grief, not with new music but with a blizzard of tweets that included an expressed affinity for President Trump, right down to wearing a Make America Great Again cap of his own. Mr. West began his career as a kind of black-sheep Huxtable. (His first album was “The College Dropout.”) But he eventually gathered a sense of politics — racialized, pro-black politics. And then he married into the Kardashian family and things got as vivid and incoherent as one of Cliff’s Van Den Akker sweaters. This is how you get a blistering indictment of racial closed-mindedness like 2013’s “Black Skinhead” but also an embrace of people who’ve been reluctant to shame white supremacists.

This seems like a reasonable moment to wonder whether the Huxtable mold is one that needs breaking — or at least expansion. Mr. West presents a new vexation that’s the opposite of Mr. Cosby’s stringent black conservatism. He can be offensive and rude and self-aggrandizing. But that mind-set also feels like a way to move beyond America’s Dad. Disrespectability politics.

We’re in a moment of cleaving terrible people from their great work. It’s a luxury conundrum, one that feels like a mockery of tremendous human suffering. With Mr. Cosby, though, these are questions worth seriously considering. How do I, at least, cleave this man from the man he seduced me into becoming?

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Live Briefing: Reactions to Cosby Verdict: ‘Women Were Finally Believed’


“I can finally lay down my shield and sword for a while,” she said. “I’m a little weary and feel battered, but right now I’m thrilled.”

The jury convicted Mr. Cosby of aggravated indecent assault against Ms. Constand, at the time a Temple University employee he had mentored. But during the trial, Ms. Constand became something of a proxy for the many other women who have accused Mr. Cosby of similar sexual misconduct. His first trial ended in a hung jury last June.

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Caroline Heldman comforts Lili Bernard after Bill Cosby was found guilty of sexual assault.

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Pool photo by Mark Makela

Lili Bernard, who said she was drugged and raped while guest starring on “The Cosby Show” in the early ’90s, was ebullient: “I feel like my faith in humanity is restored.”

She said the verdict was “a victory for all sexual assault survivors, female and male. It’s a victory for womanhood.”

Donna Motsinger, who said Mr. Cosby drugged and assaulted her in 1972, said the verdict felt less a victory for her personally than for Ms. Constand, who has become a close friend.

“It took one woman, one courageous, tenacious woman, to bring a criminal to justice,” Ms. Motsinger said. “Sometimes the justice system doesn’t work. But it worked because of her.”

She continued: “It’s not really about me. I didn’t process it for me. I’m still processing that it can still happen. One person can make a difference.”

Other reaction

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Andrea Constand, center, the accuser in the trial, after hearing the verdict.

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Mark Makela/Getty Images

Bounce TV, an Atlanta-based network programmed primarily for African-American audiences and one of the few networks that still showed reruns of “The Cosby Show,” said on Thursday it would immediately pull the show from its schedule.

It was the second time Bounce TV agreed to take Mr. Cosby off the air. In July 2015, the network stopped airing reruns after he admitted to drugging women, but started running them again in December 2016.

On Twitter, the National Organization for Women said that “justice was served today.”

“This is a notice to sexual predators everywhere,” the organization said.

Rose McGowan, an actress who has accused Harvey Weinstein of assaulting her and who has been a vocal advocate in the #MeToo movement, celebrated the result on Twitter.

Lisa Bloom, a lawyer who represented one of Mr. Cosby’s accusers, said on Twitter it was “justice delayed, but justice delivered.”

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