Cosby maintains innocence, discusses prison reform program

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Cosby
MARK MAKELA/GETTY IMAGES/TNS
Bill Cosby departs the Montgomery County Courthouse on the first day of sentencing in his sexual assault trial on Sept. 24, 2018 in Norristown, Pa. 

BY STACY M. BROWN
NNPA NEWSWIRE

In a phone call on Nov. 24 with the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s BlackPressUSA.com, Bill Cosby said he’s spending his time helping to teach and encourage a large population of African American inmates via Mann Up, a prison reform program. 

The 82-year-old educator and award-winning TV producer/ director/ comedian was sentenced to serve three to 10 years in SCI-Phoenix, a maximum-security penitentiary near Philadelphia. He is serving time following his September 2018 conviction on charges of aggravated indecent assault. 

Unless he receives relief from the state’s appellate courts, Cosby said he fully anticipates serving his entire sentence, saying he’s not guilty and will never admit to something he didn’t do. 

Displayed remorse is generally a required prerequisite to obtaining parole or a shortened sentence. 

During the exclusive interview with NNPA, Cosby was candid, vivid and outspoken. 

Andrew Wyatt, Cosby’s spokesman, was also on the call, where Cosby stressed that there would be no ground rules or restrictions. No topics were off-the-table for discussion.

‘All a set up’ 

Cosby received no special treatment from the facility for this interview. Because inmates are only allowed to remain on phone calls for 15 minutes, Cosby had to call back multiple times in order to complete the interview. 

“I have eight years and nine months left,” Cosby stated. “When I come up for parole, they’re not going to hear me say that I have remorse. I was there. I don’t care what group of people come along and talk about this when they weren’t there. They don’t know.” 

He said his trials were a sham, unjust and not fair. 

“It’s all a setup. That whole jury thing. They were imposters,” Cosby stated.

“Look at the woman who blew the whistle,” he said, alluding to the potential juror who overheard a seated juror proclaim before the trial that, “he’s guilty, we can all go home now.” 

“Then she went in and came out smiling, it’s something attorneys will tell you is called a payoff,” Cosby stated. “I know what they’ve done to my people. But my people are going to view me and say, ‘that boy looks good. That boy is strong.’

“I have too many heroes that I’ve sat with. Too many heroes whom I listened to like John Henrik Clarke, Kenneth Clark, and Dorothy Height. Those people are very strong, and they saw the rejection of their people. This is political. I can see the whole thing.” 

“I am a privileged man in prison,” he stated. 

More ‘Pound Cake’ 

During the call, Cosby referred to his small cell as “my penthouse.” 

He revisited his famous 2004 “Pound Cake” speech and clarified that he probably should not have addressed that controversial dissertation to all African Americans – the residents at SCI-Phoenix make for the perfect audience, Cosby stated. 

Cosby said he remains concerned, however, for all of Black America. 

“They are under siege. This thing with the drugs and the different pockets of the neighborhoods where it’s going on. When you look at what drugs are doing… things that make these people drive around and shoot into crowds,” Cosby said. 

“The insanity of what is the cause to the brain by all the drugs these people are dealing with. It’s exactly what I warned them about in 2004. They’ve thrown education out the window. 

“They’ve thrown respect for the family out the window, and they’re blaming each other for what’s going on. There is post-traumatic stress syndrome, and there are also bad manners.”

A higher purpose? 

While inmates who spoke to NNPA Newswire said they were saddened to see an icon like Cosby imprisoned, each said they believe he’s serving a higher purpose. 

Cosby agreed. 

“I don’t belong to the Mann Up Association, but it’s a privilege to come in and speak,” Cosby stated. “I never wanted them to lord me up (be put on a pedestal). This is a great privilege.” 

A weekly highlight for Cosby since his incarceration, has been the reform program, Mann Up, where he is often the featured speaker.

The program serves to encourage and empower African American men to strive for self-respect and dignity, and to put their family first. 

Right place 

Cosby stated that he believes he’s in the right place at the right time because he’s spent his life and career trying to reach African American men. 

“I’m looking at a state [Pennsylvania] that has a huge number of prisons, and the one I’m in, thankfully, has the largest population of African Americans,” Cosby stated. 

“These are guys who are also from Philadelphia, where I grew up. Many of them are from the neighborhood. Michael Eric Dyson said ‘Bill Cosby is rich and forgot where he came from.’

“That’s not true. I’m not calling him a liar; I’m saying that’s not true. What I’m saying is that it’s not the same neighborhood as it was when I was coming up. 

“The influx of drugs and what they’ve done with their own history. If they would pay attention to these things and put education first and respect for others first…it’s almost insane to hear someone say they don’t know how to be a father.”

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