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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Charlene Crowell

The old adage, ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’ seems somehow an apt description for what a growing number of communities are suffering: a lack of fair lending.

In recent weeks and in varying locales, the issue of redlining has led to lawsuits that have been challenged or settlements that avoided courtroom dramas. Regardless of locale, allegations are remarkably similar: lack of access in mortgage lending coupled with a lack of convenient access to full-service banking.

On September 24, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Justice jointly ordered Hudson City Savings Bank to pay a total of $32.75 million. Of these funds, $25 million will be dedicated to subsidizing increased mortgage opportunity for Blacks and Latino neighborhoods, $5.5 million paid in penalties, and $2.25 million for outreach and community programs in Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and both New York City and Staten Island.

Although the Equal Credit Opportunity Act bans businesses from discriminating against applicants in credit transactions on the basis of race, color or national origin, 94 percent of Hudson City’s branches were in areas with scant consumers of color. Further, 94.5 percent of the bank’s top 50 brokers’ offices were concentrated outside of minority communities. In Philadelphia and in Camden, none of bank’s 47 loan officers were based in Black and Latino areas.

“Hudson City Savings Bank structured its business operations to systemically avoid providing credit services in predominantly minority neighborhoods,” said U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman of the District of New Jersey. “There is no room for such behavior in our banking system.”

Nor is Hudson City Savings alone. Just a few days later on September 29, another Justice Department settlement noted redlining in the St. Louis area by Eagle Bank and Trust. Citing both the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, a $975,000 settlement will now open two new locations in northern St. Louis among other changes.

The next day, September 30, a federal judge in Chicago denied efforts by HSBC Holdings to stop a fair housing lawsuit brought by Cook County in Illinois. On behalf of its citizens, Cook County charged that foreclosures dating to the late 2000s were the result of steering minority borrowers into high-cost loans even when their credit profiles made them eligible for cheaper loans offered to Whites.

In his decision, U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee wrote, “These discriminatory actions increased the minority borrowers’ risk of default and foreclosure, resulting in a rash of foreclosures in the county, which in turn caused economic and noneconomic injury to the County.”

HSBC must now decide whether to appeal the denial, defend its actions in court or broker a settlement with Cook County.

In yet another case in Buffalo, NY, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman secured an $825,000 agreement with Evans Bank to end its discriminatory redlining that denied services to the largely Black East Side of the city. In this action, Evans Bank was found to use a lending map that excluded Black consumers while including neighboring communities. It also disqualified East Side mortgage applicants regardless of their creditworthiness.

The largest portion of settlement funds – $475,000 – will be used to create a Housing Opportunity Fund to support development and restoration of affordable housing. Remaining monies will be dedicated to marketing and advertising to communities of color ($200,000), a special financing program to increase lending activity in underserved areas ($100,000), and payment of fees and costs to the state ($50,000).

In recent months, even more similar legal actions have been filed; but the pattern should be clear: communities of color often lack access to mortgages and/or fair credit. Artificially raising the cost of the single largest investment most consumers make is just as harmful as the failure to approve mortgages to creditworthy borrowers.

The moral to this continuing saga is that once laws have been passed to correct discriminatory lending, vigorous enforcement will make those laws real for consumers and lenders alike.

“Without access to affordable credit, neighborhoods deteriorate in the long shadow cast by unfair lending,” said Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Charlene Crowell is a communications manager with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.

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