Staff Editorial: Cosby back in court

“Accusations of awful things,” as Atilla Cosby wrote in an August 31 Hatchet op-ed characterizing an alleged sexual assault incident in May, have resurfaced in connection with the GW basketball player. In January the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed new charges stemming from the incident, going for misdemeanor charges rather than a felony. Athletic department and other officials have apparently been unaware of Cosby’s renewed legal trouble. The ignorance of GW administrators is disturbing, and so is what appears to be preferential treatment for an athlete.

Cosby is slated to appear in court June 25 to answer nine charges including misdemeanor sexual abuse, theft and “attempted possession of a prohibited weapon.” These charges are related to an incident last spring when Cosby brought a 46-year-old crack-cocaine user to his Guthridge Hall room, and allegedly forced her at gunpoint to perform oral sex on him. The woman, who was twice convicted of prostitution in the early 1980s, also alleges that Cosby sodomized her with a broomstick.

Administrators knew Cosby’s case was still open. He appeared in court in July facing felony charges from the same incident. Those charges were dismissed when the complainant failed to appear to testify. Still, Cosby admits to bringing her to his room to have oral sex, and investigators found a handgun trigger lock in Cosby’s residence hall room. With their prior knowledge of this case and of Cosby’s checkered past – including a suspension from the University of Pittsburgh basketball team and high school expulsion – administrators should have kept track of developments in his case. GW officials now only know of the pending charges after The Hatchet obtained court documents and began asking questions.

Students at GW possessing “paraphernalia” related to drugs can lose their housing. Anyone with a weapon in a residence hall faces suspension or expulsion. The same is true for sexual assault. In cases where students have been arrested for underage drinking or other offenses, GW does not wait for the outcome of a criminal case to pursue disciplinary charges. But Cosby seems to have escaped consequences from the University. While federal privacy laws shield his disciplinary records, there is no indication he was sanctioned for his poor judgement. In fact, Cosby just completed a season with the men’s basketball team.

GW should stop coddling Cosby and adjudicate his case as it would do in the case of other less visible students facing similar allegations of sexual assault, theft and attempted possession of a firearm. And athletic department officials have a responsibility to be aware of criminal charges pending against an athlete.

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