05 24 2016
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  • On Tuesday, a judge ordered the 78-year-old Cosby to stand trial on sexual assault charges 
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  • The judge concluded Officer Edward Nero played little role in the arrest and wasn't responsible for the failure by police to buckle Gray in  
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  • Bill Cosby faces a preliminary hearing Tuesday to determine if his criminal sex-assault case in suburban Philadelphia goes to trial.Prosecutors had declined to charge the comedian-actor over the 2005 complaint, but arrested him in December after his explosive deposition in the woman's lawsuit became public. In the testimony given in that deposition, Cosby is grilled about giving drugs and alcohol to women before sex; making secret payments to ex-lovers; and hosting Andrea Constand at his home. They knew each other through Temple University, where he was a trustee and she managed the women's basketball team. Bill Cosby's wife refused to answer dozens of questions during a combative deposition in a defamation lawsuit filed by seven women who say the comedian branded them liars after they accused him of sexually assaulting them, according to a transcript released Friday. Camille Cosby was subjected to intense questioning by the women's lawyer, who repeatedly pressed her to say whether she believes her husband "acted with a lack of integrity" during their 52-year marriage. The lawyer also asked if her husband used his position and power "to manipulate young women." Camille Cosby didn't answer those questions and many others after her lawyer cited marital privilege, the legal protection given to communications between spouses. She repeatedly said she had "no opinion" when pressed on whether she viewed her husband's behavior as dishonest and a violation of their marriage vows. About 50 women have publicly accused Bill Cosby of forcing unwanted sexual contact on them decades ago. Cosby has denied the allegations. He faces a criminal case in Pennsylvania, where prosecutors have charged him with sexually violating a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand. He has pleaded not guilty. Camille Cosby answered questions in the deposition Feb. 22 and again April 19 after her lawyers argued unsuccessfully to stop it. A judge ruled she would have to give a deposition but said she could refuse to answer questions about private communications between her and her husband. Camille Cosby's lawyer, Monique Pressley, repeatedly cited that privilege and advised her not to answer many questions asked by the women's lawyer, Joseph Cammarata. The exchanges between Cammarata and Cosby became testy at times, and she admonished him: "Don't lecture me. Just keep going with the questions." Using a transcript of a deposition Bill Cosby gave in a civil lawsuit filed by Constand in 2005 and a transcript of an interview she gave to Oprah Winfrey in 2000, Cammarata asked Camille Cosby about extramarital affairs her husband had. "Were you aware of your husband setting up trusts for the benefit of women that he had a sexual relationship with?" Cammarata asked. She didn't answer after her lawyer cited marital privilege. Cammarata asked her about Shawn Thompson, a woman who said Bill Cosby fathered her daughter, Autumn Jackson, in the 1970s. Jackson was convicted in 1997 of attempting to extort money from Bill Cosby to prevent her from telling a tabloid she's his daughter. He acknowledged he had an affair with her mother and had given her money. "Was it a big deal when this came up in the 1970s that your husband had — big deal to you that your husband had an extramarital affair and potentially had a daughter from that extramarital affair?" Cammarata asked. "It was a big deal then, yes," Camille Cosby replied. She said she had "no opinion" on whether her husband's admission he obtained quaaludes to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex violated their marriage vows. Her lawyer objected and instructed her not to answer when Cammarata asked her if she ever suspected she had been given any type of drug to alter her state of consciousness when she had sex with her husband. A spokesman for the Cosbys declined to comment on her deposition. The Cosbys have a home in Shelburne Falls, an hour's drive from Springfield, where the lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, was filed. An attorney handling a separate lawsuit against Bill Cosby revealed Friday that Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner provided sworn testimony Wednesday. In the sexual battery lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, Judy Huth says Cosby forced her to perform a sex act on him at the Playboy Mansion around 1974, when she was 15. Bill Cosby's former lawyers have accused Huth of attempting to extort him before filing the case and have tried unsuccessfully to have it dismissed. Huth's attorney, Gloria Allred, said Hefner's testimony will remain under seal for now. Hefner also was named as a defendant in a case filed Monday by former model Chloe Goins, who accuses Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually abusing her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008.   The Associated Press generally doesn't identify people who say they're victims of sexual abuse, but the women accusing Cosby have come forward to tell their stories.___AP Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
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Utah Congressional candidate Mia Love is married to her white husband, a rare
interracial couple in American politics

 

Though the latest census data confirms that the number of interracial couples in America has grown significantly in recent years, there is still one place in American society where their numbers remain largely invisible: the campaign trail. Despite our country electing a president who is of mixed race, mixed-race couples remain a rarity in American politics.

The furor that erupted over coverage of Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan's admission that he once dated a black woman raises an interesting question, with few easy answers. If society is becoming increasingly multiracial, then why don't those leading society, or running for office to do so, reflect that? Why aren't there more interracial couples in American politics and government?

According to political consultant Michael Goldman, who has advised the late Ted Kennedy and current Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the lack of multiracial families in politics is not that surprising. The reason, he explained, is that having a spouse of a different race still represents a political liability. "To be as ordinary as possible is the goal for a candidate," Goldman said, adding that most voters feel comfortable voting for someone they can relate to. Since most people still marry people of the same race, for many voters a candidate with a spouse of a different race is simply less relatable. He drew comparisons to the struggle faced by candidates who practice a different religion than the majority of their constituents.

New York public advocate Bill de Blasio has not allowed such concerns to deter him from a career in politics. He is mounting a campaign to become New York City's mayor. Should the Democrat win, he and his family would make history. De Blasio is white. His wife Chirlane is black. De Blasio admitted, however, in an interview with The Root, that the unique challenges multiracial families, including his own, have faced, can be a deterrent to entering politics. "If you're an interracial family you're still dealing with a certain amount of challenge from society around you just in having that family and in trying to make that family work." He explained that the glare of the public eye that politics brings could make coping with those challenges even tougher.

Echoing Goldman's sentiments, he said, "Society as a whole is not totally acclimated to interracial families yet." He added, "We can't think of another black-white couple active in politics."

They are out there, but to de Blasio's larger point they are few and far between. The highest profile mixed-race couples include former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, who is white, and his wife Janet Langhart, a former Ebony Fashion Fair model and news anchor, who is black. They wrote of the challenges they faced early in their relationship in a memoir titled Love in Black and White. The only black justice currently on the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas, is married to Tea Party activist Virginia Thomas, who is white.

It is worth noting, however, that neither of these couples faced the scrutiny of a campaign. Both men are best known for appointed positions, which means they did not have to defend their unions before voters. In Cohen's case, though, he and his wife married while he was still a Republican member of the U.S. Senate, in the last year of his final term. He has previously acknowledged that the relationship gave some of his supporters pause, meaning their union could have become campaign fodder had he run for re-election.

Studies show that interracial relationships are gaining increasing acceptance with younger generations and that nearly all millennials do not take issue with such unions. Many observers noted that Rep. Paul Ryan is the first member of a major party ticket to disclose an interracial relationship, and at age 42, he also happens to be the first member of a major party ticket who is a member of Generation X. (Some have mentioned in comparison that President Obama had a white girlfriend at one time, but since his mother was also white, it doesn't make such a disclosure quite as noteworthy.)

Ryan is not alone. Thirty-seven-year-old Republican mayor-turned-GOP congressional candidate Mia Love, who is speaking at this week's Republican National Convention, is also a member of Generation X and has also dated interracially, and subsequently married. Love is black, while her husband is white.

Basil Smikle, a New York-based political consultant who once worked for Hillary Clinton, speculated that couples like Love's and de Blasio's may have an easier time than others, and not just because the public is growing more open-minded. Smikle theorized that black men with white spouses are likely to have the toughest time of all mixed race matches in a campaign. "I think for an African-American male candidate with a white spouse there is a credibility hurdle that he will need to overcome with black voters that another candidate would not face," he said.

He explained that while black voters may look at a black woman married to a white man and assume perhaps she simply did not meet the right black man, they see an accomplished black man married to a white woman and assume perhaps he married a trophy wife. This makes visiting black churches and other locales to which black candidates often go a challenge. For instance, as a candidate for the senate in Tennessee, Rep. Harold Ford was the target of an ad featuring a white woman suggestively telling him to "call me," which many viewed as a racially coded reference to his interracial relationships. Ford later explored running for the senate in New York, but by that time his white girlfriend had become his wife.

Though New York is not Tennessee, it still would have presented a challenge for him, Smikle explained. "I don't think it is something he could not have overcome," he added. Yet Smikle did conclude that "If Obama had a white wife it is unlikely he would be president."

Despite the challenges their unique family may bring in the political sphere, de Blasio and his wife are optimistic about where our country is headed when it comes to race. They recalled that they met weeks after the racially charged Crown Heights riots in New York, and it was love at first sight. Yet after the Spike Lee film Jungle Fever was released that year they were harassed by a group of teens that cornered them while shouting, "jungle fever."

Now, two decades later they are preparing to possibly become New York's first family. "Today we feel broadly respected and embraced with a few exceptions," he said. His wife pointed out, though, that there are still times when people see their family together and treat them like they couldn't possibly be a family, what both of them referred to as "awkwardness."

"The day I look forward to is when we are a country without awkwardness, where people just accept people in every configuration," de Blasio said. "You would think that by having a biracial president that would be the end of the chapter and we could all go home now, but nothing could be further from the truth. We have a long way to go."

Keli Goff is The Root's political correspondent. Follow her on Twitter.

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