“People … are saying this feels like victim-blaming,” Hill said.
“Which is like a tag word,” Pressley said. “Yeah. It’s a hashtag even.”
“Some hashtags are true, right?” Hill said.
“It’s the prevailing way that we label things,” Pressley said.
Hill then tried to characterize the mindset of those who blame victims of sexual assaults for the crimes committed against them: “If you were raped, why didn’t you fill-in-the-blank.”
Pressley filled in the blanks for him, offering a list of what victims should do.
“Report,” Pressley said. “Go to the hospital. Do all of the things that rape counseling centers tell women to do immediately. That’s not coming just from me as Mr. Cosby’s attorney. That’s not blaming.”
Hill asked whether this mentality “plays into the idea that, on some level, rape victims aren’t telling the truth.”
“Every person who says that something happened to them is not necessarily telling the truth,” Pressley said.
“Do you think it’s possible that any of these women are telling the truth?” Hill asked.
“I don’t have any thoughts about this case, Mr. Hill,” Pressley said. “… I represent a client and that my client has and continues to vehemently deny 1) giving drugs to a woman without her consent and 2) forcibly having sex or having non-consensual sex with a woman.”
She added: “I’m not speculating, I’m not thinking, I’m not opining, I’m not waxing poetic. But what I’m saying is women have responsibility. We have responsibility for our bodies, we have responsibility for our decisions, we have responsibility for the ways that we conduct ourselves.”
Hill asked whether Cosby’s accusers had conducted themselves improperly.
“I’m not talking about these women,” she said. “I’m talking about all women.”
In the interview, Pressley also said women who don’t report alleged crimes are, more or less, out of luck if too much time passes.
“If a woman is violated by a man and does not report for whatever reason,” Pressley said, “… in a court of law the entire situation will never be brought forward for the purposes of justice. So the only way for a woman to get the justice that she seeks and that, if her allegation is true, that she deserves is to come forward.”
Pressley said that her client is now being targeted by those who did not come forward earlier.
“And even if the reasons that the woman did not do that are legitimate ones,” she said, “what cannot happen in my opinion in the United states is that 40 years later there is a persecution tantamount to a witch hunt.”
She added: “To blame the person who is the target now of the attack for what [the alleged victim] chose not to do many years ago is improper.”
Hill pointed out that, by this logic, even if Cosby was guilty of sexual assault, the comedian could not be punished for it. Pressley agreed.
“There is no recourse in the law,” Pressley said, pointing out that time periods for reporting many crimes are limited by law. Of such statutes of limitation, Pressley said: “I don’t really see anyone being up in arms about it.”
Cosby has been accused of sexual assault by dozens of women; 35 appeared on the cover of New York magazine last month. He has denied the sexual assault allegations and has not been charged with a crime.
In the interview, Pressley also said she found it hard to believe that many of Cosby’s alleged victims did not come forward because they were intimidated by the comedian’s celebrity, and she brought up the race of many of the accusers.
“I find it incredulous to believe that none of the majority white females who are saying that something was done to them that was inappropriate by an African American male in the late ’60s and ’70s, that none of them would have been believed,” Pressley said.
She also said that Cosby, who is being tried in the media and not in a court of law, had been thrust into an unfair situation.
“I believe that people are innocent until they’re proven guilty, and if you can’t prove them guilty in a court through prosecution, then you don’t you get the option of persecution instead,” Pressley said. “I don’t think that 10, 20, 30, 40 years later people get to decide to come forward.”
At the conclusion of the interview, Hill asked Pressley whether she thought Cosby was innocent.
“Yes,” Pressley said. “… Because I can only give you a legal answer.”
“Will Bill Cosby be vindicated?” Hill asked.
“I’m working on it,” Pressley said.