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August 10, 2015
by Ruth Gordon, MA, MSW, LCSW

Camille Cosby: Co-Conspirator? Faithful Wife? Abuse Victim?

August 10, 2015 07:46 by Ruth Gordon, MA, MSW, LCSW

Camille Cosby has declared that her husband, Bill, is a kind and good man She dismisses accusations that he is, in fact, a serial rapist.

According to recent count, 47 women, dating all the way back to 1969, claim the comedian maneuvered them into situations that resulted in non-consensual sex.  Mr. Cosby, himself, has admitted, in depositions that were opened by court order, that he has, without permission, used quaaludes, which are sedatives and hypnotics, to ensure the success of his seductions.

The Cosby’s have been married for 51 years.  Is Camille Cosby a co-conspirator, a woman following a marital tradition, or a woman who has been bullied and abused by her husband?  Perhaps she is all three.

Who is Camile Cosby?

Camille is her husband’s business manager. She undoubtedly knew that, given the extent of their wealth, she would not be left penniless if she decided to end the marriage.  As an educated, well-spoken and well-connected individual, she must have known that should she strike out on her own there would be no shortage of opportunities as she created an independent and meaningful life for herself.

It has been observed that in photographs of Mrs. Cosby she has the same smile, her demeanor does not change.  In fact, when looking back at photographs of Camille over time, her countenance remains set.  There is some resemblance to the proverbial deer in the headlights..

Speculation has run that evil is hiding behind that smile.  There are those who believe that Camille Cosby has behaved as a willing accessory to her husband’s crimes.  

Others observe a long-suffering woman who has kept her marital vow to stand by her husband regardless of the accusations against him.

Has Camille Cosby been manipulated?  

It is unlikely that we will ever know.  What does stand out is the cognitive dissonance — the contradictory perceptions of Bill Cosby as an “all American” father versus Bill Cosby the entitled, unapologetic deceiver.

The stress of maintaining this duality has undoubtedly been burdensome, at the very least. Camille has publicly acknowledged that she has been aware of her husband’s sexual liaisons for a long time.  Even if she is in what some have called psychopathic denial, Mrs. Cosby understood that Bill was no Cliff Huxtable, the model husband and father on The Bill Cosby Show. 

Legally, Camille Cosby is not required to bear witness against her husband should the case go to trial.  She is protected, by law from being obliged to testify.  Does she have an ethical or moral responsibility?  It is likely that it depends on who you ask.

When slavery was abolished, many black families saw the freedom to marry legally and maintain an intact family as a very important right.  No longer would families be split up as a result of sales and trades between plantations. For many being able to claim legitimacy far outweighed the pull of love.

It is possible that Camille Cosby was influenced by this tradition and that she holds on to the conviction that marriage is inviolate.  If this is the case, or a portion of the reason she refuses to acknowledge her husband as an out of control debaucher (at least publicly), it is understandable that custom would weigh heavily on any decision she would make regarding the permanence of marriage.

Feminism Plays a Role

A more significant aspect of the Cosby situation is the cognitive dissonance surrounding Camille Cosby, herself.  She has claimed proudly and publicly that she supports feminist ethical standards.  She is the mother of 4 daughters, Ensa, Erika,Erinn, and Evin, ranging in age from 38 to 49.  In fact, her daughter Erinn, who, struggled with drug addiction, claimed that she was raped by Mike Tyson in 1989.

Reportedly, Tyson and Bill Cosby had an agreement that Tyson would go to therapy in lieu of pressing charges against him.  Tyson never went for counseling and Erinn Cosby, who was emotionally fragile, had no one to defend her.

Where was Camille while all of this was taking place? How does Camille juggle her roles as a mother, a wife and a woman in these circumstances?  Once again, through the agency of denial.

It would be difficult to abandon a role that one has dedicated one’s life to — the partner in marriage and business to a man who appears to be morally barren.  Perhaps Camille Cosby can live comfortably with her role as an enabler of her husband’s alleged crimes.  She has the right to hold on to her privacy and keep her thoughts to herself.  

Can Camille Cosby look at herself in the mirror and fail to be aware of the rot that surrounds her?  Should her vision clear it will, undoubtedly, be a breath taking blow.  How will Camille handle her newly-found understanding?  It is more than likely that anyone outside the Cosby inner circle will never know. 


Brown, S. (2015, August 5). Camille Cosby's Loyalty Confounds a New Generation. The New Republic.

Johnson, C. (2014, November 23). What Bill Cosby Did to His Raped Daughter. Retrieved August 6, 2015.

Lute, K. (2015, July 16). Camille Cosby and America's Culture of Rape. Retrieved August 6, 2015.

Miller, K. (2015, July 25). The Complicated Case of Camille Cosby. Retrieved August 6, 2015.

Tartt, Ph.D, A. (2011, February 3). Black Marriage in America. Essence.

Washington, E. (2015, July 15). Smile for Me Camille Cosby. Retrieved August 6, 2015

About the Author

Ruth Gordon Ruth Gordon, MA/MSW/LCSW

A practical approach to problems encountered in daily life. A confidential and comfortable atmosphere in which we will use humor to help you gain perspective on current concerns. Enhance your skills for creative problem solving.

Ruth Gordon has a clinical practice in Naples, FL

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