Spokesman: Cosby plans tour to educate youth on misbehavior

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby departs after a judge declared a mistrial in his sexual assault trial in Norristown, Pennsylvania. (Reuters)
Updated 23 June 2017
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Spokesman: Cosby plans tour to educate youth on misbehavior

LOS ANGELES: Bill Cosby will organize a series of town hall meetings to help educate young people about problems their misbehavior could create and other issues, a spokesman for Cosby said.
Cosby is eager to get back to work following a deadlocked jury and mistrial in his sexual assault case, spokesman Andrew Wyatt told Birmingham, Alabama, TV station WBRC on Wednesday.
“We’ll talk to young people. Because this is bigger than Bill Cosby. You know, this, this issue can affect any young person, especially young athletes of today,” Wyatt said. “And they need to know what they’re facing when they’re hanging out and partying, when they’re doing certain things they shouldn’t be doing.
“And it also affects married men,” Wyatt said, without elaborating.
“Is it kind of a, ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ situation?” the newscaster asked, but it was unclear if Wyatt heard and responded to the question.
Prosecutors have said Cosby will be retried on sexual assault charges stemming from former Temple University worker Andrea Constand’s allegations that Cosby drugged and molested her in 2004. Cosby contends the encounter was consensual.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, an anti-sexual violence organization known as RAINN, responded to Cosby’s announced plans.
“It would be more useful if Mr. Cosby would spend time talking with people about how not to commit sexual assault in the first place,” RAINN spokeswoman Jodi Omear said in a statement.
In a statement Thursday to The Associated Press, Wyatt expanded on his remarks.
He said that many civic organizations and churches have called asking that Cosby speak to young men and women about the judicial system and how it can be used for “personal agenda and political ambitions.”
“They feel that the young men and women need to be aware that Mr. Cosby was given a deal to never be criminally charged” in the Andrea Constand case, he said.
A town hall will be held in Birmingham in July, Wyatt said. He didn’t identify the date or location or any other cities that will be visited.
Also taking part in the TV interview was Wyatt associate Ebonee Benson, who had read comments from Cosby’s wife, Camille, slamming prosecutors after the trial’s end last weekend in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
“Laws are changing,” Benson said on Thursday. “The statute of limitations for victims of sexual assault are being extended. So this is why people need to be educated on a brush against the shoulder, you know anything at this point can be considered sexual assault. And it’s ... a good thing to be educated about the law.”
Lecturing isn’t new for Cosby. In recent years, the comedian and actor became known for scolding fellow African-Americans for poor grammar, sloppy dress and not valuing education, critiques that drew fire from some as elitist.
It also led indirectly to the reopening of the examination of his past.
In 2014, black standup comedian Hannibal Buress slammed Cosby on stage, calling him a self-righteous scold and adding, “You rape women, Bill Cosby.”
Video of Buress’ remarks was widely viewed online, and a number of women came forward to share similar stories alleging sexual abuse by Cosby. Prosecutors ultimately reopened Constand’s case.
During the trial, Constand testified that Cosby drugged and molested her at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. Cosby did not testify during the trial, but has said his contact with the former director of women’s basketball operations at his alma mater, Temple University, was consensual.
A juror in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial said Thursday that some jurors were concerned that prosecutors waited 10 years to charge him, expressing suspicion that politics had played a role in the case.
The juror told The Associated Press that the panel was almost evenly split in its deliberations, with a similar number of jurors wanting to convict the 79-year-old entertainer as acquit him.
The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.


Ozil defends controversial picture with Erdogan

Updated 22 July 2018
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Ozil defends controversial picture with Erdogan

  • Ozil said he was loyal to both his Turkish and German origins
  • He insisted he did not intend to make a political statement

BERLIN: Footballer Mesut Ozil said Sunday he had no regrets about his controversial photograph with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that sparked questions about his loyalty to Germany’s national squad ahead of the World Cup.
Breaking his silence over the snapshot that caused outrage during the tournament, the Arsenal midfielder said in a statement on Twitter that he was loyal to both his Turkish and German origins and insisted he did not intend to make a political statement.
“Like many people, my ancestry traces back to more than one country. Whilst I grew up in Germany, my family background has its roots firmly based in Turkey,” he said.
“I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish.”
Ozil said he had first met Erdogan in 2010 after the president and German Chancellor Angela Merkel watched a Germany-Turkey match together.
“Since then, our paths have crossed a lot of times around the globe,” he said.
“I’m aware that the picture of us caused a huge response in the German media, and whilst some people may accuse me of lying or being deceitful, the picture we took had no political intentions.”
Ozil said despite the timing of the picture with teammate Ilkay Gundogan and Erdogan — shortly before the president won re-election in a poll endowing him with sweeping new powers — “it wasn’t about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country.”
“My job is a football player and not a politician, and our meeting was not an endorsement of any policies,” Ozil said.
“I get that this may be hard to understand, as in most cultures the political leader cannot be thought of as being separate from the person. But in this case it is different. Whatever the outcome would’ve been in this previous election, or the election before that, I would have still taken the picture.”
Ozil, 29, came in for stinging criticism in Germany for their shock first-round defeat at the World Cup.
Team boss Oliver Bierhoff suggested after the debacle that Germany should have considered dropping Ozil after his failure to explain himself over the Erdogan picture.
Bierhoff later backtracked, saying that he “was wrong” to put Ozil under undue pressure, but the picture continued to draw scorn from fans on social media.
Germany is home to more than three million people of Turkish origin.