Slowly but surely Bill Cosby’s lawyer has begun to outshine the once beloved TV dad. As anxious as we all are to hear what will come out of the mouth of Bill and his unwaveringly faithful wife Camille during his upcoming hearing, right now the world seems to hanging on to every single word flowing from the lips of Monique Pressley, whom both Cosby defenders and opposers have become enamored with as of late.
During the past few days, numerous pieces have popped up on the Internet singing the praises of the “Howard graduate who previously served as the senior assistant attorney general in the Office of the Attorney General for Washington, D.C.,” as NY Mag reported in their piece on her. Rattling off those same accomplishments along with the fact that Pressley is also principal of the Pressley Firm LLC, an ordained minister, professor, and a mother of two, The Root determined “everybody can agree…Monique Pressley is a badass.”
To some extent that statement is true; but not everyone can separate Pressley’s prestigious career from what some see as a moral conflict of defending an accused rapist (particularly one who has already been deemed guilty in the eyes of many). But then again if Pressley was concerned about that she likely would’ve chosen a different profession altogether.
Still, it’s interesting how the tide has turned in recent months. When Pressley spoke to Marc Lamont Hill on Huffington Post Live this past August, she was heavily criticized for saying “[Victim-blaming] is like a tag word. It’s a hashtag, even.” And things only got worse when she seemingly engaged in the practice herself, adding “What I’m saying is women have responsibility. We have responsibility for our bodies, we have responsibility for our decisions, we have responsibilities for the ways we conduct ourselves… I’m not talking about these women, I’m saying all women have responsibility…”
Nowadays, Pressley is being commended for her sharp handling of journalists during interviews and given a stamp of approval that essentially boils down to the sentiment that if anyone can impart doubt in the minds of a jury and get Cosby off, it’s her. As a black woman I feel a bit of a conflict on that point because, while I want Pressley to be exceptional at her job and I’m thankful for the image of success she conveys against the backdrop of unending racial stereotypes about us, I don’t want that job to entail letting Bill Cosby skate on rape charges again — if he is in fact guilty — and letting the system fail rape victims again.
The excitement around Pressley mimics that of top Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby who rose to national acclaim when she filed charges against the six officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray, but when I look at these two successful figures, one simply isn’t quite like the other. Or are they?