The frightening precedent in the Bill Cosby case

I do not know if Bill Cosby is guilty of drugging and raping women or not. If he is guilty, it would be a terrible injustice for him to go unpunished. But it would be a bigger injustice for the government to get away with an abuse of power in this case. From an editorial by Debra Saunders:

A district attorney prodded a private citizen to forfeit a constitutional right based on an agreement that, Castor later testified, he believed was binding “for all time.” If a different prosecutor can tear up that agreement just because he doesn’t like it, Turley noted, it’s almost a “bait and switch.”

Let’s be honest: This alleged crime took place over a decade ago, and there is no physical evidence. The prosecutor at the time declined to pursue the case because he did not think he could win it. If Cosby actually gets a fair trial now, there is no way he is going to be convicted. Unfortunately, a fair trial is by no means assured, especially given the politically charged nature of this case and an ambitious new prosecutor who wants to use this case to advance his career.

The reason this is wrong goes far beyond Bill Cosby and sets a frightening precedent for the future. We are in the middle of a serious effort to reform the criminal justice system to make it more fair. Radley Balko has documented scores of prosecutorial abuses at Reason.com, the Huffington Post and the Washington Post. Allowing the Kevin Steele to get away with this abuse of power will only make future abuses easier.

For the sake of his victims and his eternal soul, Cosby should come clean and throw himself on the mercy of the civil magistrate if he is indeed guilty. If he does not, he faces something infinitely worse than prison. But we should be absolutely uncompromising on due process and civil liberties, and stand against abuse of power by the state.

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