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10 Men Who Have Successful Careers Despite Being Accused of Rape

Some critics of the #metoo movement have warned that accusing men of sexual assault will ruin their careers, but for high-profile men like Billy Cosby, Woody Allen, Kobe Bryant, R. Kelly, and Donald Trump, this hasn't been the case.

by Kimberly Lawson
Jan 24 2018, 7:24pm

All photos via Wikimedia.

On Monday night, Bill Cosby stood in front of a small crowd in a Philadelphia jazz club and cracked jokes for an hour. Despite the fact that more than 60 women to date have come forward to accuse the aged entertainer of drugging and assaulting them—and that a retrial in his only sexual assault case is set to happen in April—Cosby talked about his childhood, what it’s like to be legally blind, and even joked, “I used to be a comedian.”

According to the AP, only one woman protested his performance that night. The crowd otherwise was receptive, laughing along with the accused sexual predator who once unapologetically admitted in a deposition that he gave young women powerful sedatives to have sex with them and waffled on whether or not they were in a position to give consent.

One common criticism against the #metoo movement is the notion that the byproduct of people coming forward to share their stories of harassment and assault is that the careers of talented men are being ruined. Entourage’s Jeremy Pivens (who has been accused of sexual misconduct by three women) tweeted: “We seem to be entering dark times—allegations are being printed as facts and lives are being put in jeopardy without a hearing, due process, or evidence. Continuing to tear each other down and destroy careers based on mere allegations is not productive on any level.”

But are careers really being destroyed in the wake of #metoo? For those who’ve had accusations leveled at them in recent months, that remains to be seen. But here are 10 high-profile men who’ve been accused or convicted of sexual assault in the past who went on to find great professional success.

Woody Allen, director

In the 90s, the filmmaker allegedly sexually assaulted his adopted daughter, then 7-year-old Dylan Farrow, in the attic while her mother was out shopping. Allen denied the accusations, said they were invoked by Dylan’s mother Mia Farrow because he married her other adopted daughter Soon Yi, and subsequently sued for custody. The judge in that suit denied Allen’s request, writing in his decision that the director’s behavior toward Dylan was “grossly inappropriate and that measures must be taken to protect her.” Although the state prosecutor had “probable cause,” he never pursued charges because he said he wanted to spare Dylan the ordeal of a trial.

Today, actors continue to flock to work with Allen, even as the #metoo spotlight has swung back on his alleged crimes. He’s won numerous awards, including the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 2014 Golden Globes, and has yet another film coming out this year.

Bill Clinton, former president

Among the various allegations of sexual misconduct and philandering leveled at Clinton during his time as an elected official, one is of rape. In 1999, campaign volunteer Juanita Broaddrick told Dateline NBC that when Clinton was a gubernatorial candidate in 1978, he met her in her hotel room, forced her down on her bed, bit her, and raped her. She only came forward in the ‘90s because an Arkansas state employee filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton while he was president.

But being accused of sexual violence didn’t stop Clinton from leaving the White House and banking on his public speaking engagements, stumping for Hillary during the 2016 presidential election, and continuing work with his Clinton Foundation. Last year, he and author James Patterson announced they’d be collaborating on a new political thriller.

Kobe Bryant, former NBA player

In 2003, a 19-year-old hotel employee accused the former Lakers player of raping her in his Colorado hotel room. Bryant, who said he believed the encounter was consensual, lost a handful of endorsements; however, the criminal case was dropped the following year because the accuser refused to testify and instead filed a separate civil lawsuit. He later apologized publicly, saying in a statement, “Although this year has been incredibly difficult for me personally, I can only imagine the pain she has had to endure.”

With the case behind him, Bryant went on to become, as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver put it in 2015, “one of the greatest players in the history of our game.” His long list of accomplishments, including Olympic gold medals and leading his team to several championships, was punctuated with the Oscar nod a short film based on his retirement letter received this week.

Cee Lo Green, singer/rapper

Best known for performing with Goodie Mob and Gnarls Barkley, Green was sentenced to three years of probation and community service after pleading no contest in 2014 to one felony count of furnishing a controlled substance, ecstasy. A woman said she believed Green “spiked” her drink and raped her, though she had no memory of the period after they had dinner together. Prosecutors decided not to pursue the assault charge.

Despite this, Green was recognized in 2015 for Outstanding Achievement by the Music of Black Origin (MOBO) awards. He’s also about to release a new mixtape, and told DJBooth he’s about halfway done with a new Gnarls Barkley album.

R. Kelly, singer

Kelly has a long history of allegations of sexual misconduct with underage girls—including two secret sex tapes, a secret marriage, and a number of civil lawsuits. In 2002, he was acquitted on charges of child pornography, stemming from tapes allegedly showing him having sex with minors (including the infamous scene in which he urinated into a girl’s mouth), but accusers have continued to come forward. Last year, a woman broke her nondisclosure agreement to share that she began a sexual relationship with Kelly when she was 15 years old.

And yet Kelly has seen relatively little backlash to his career. Since his high-profile trial, he’s won numerous awards—he was actually nominated for an NAACP Image Award in 2004 while under indictment, though he didn’t win until 2013—continued making music, and headlining concerts. He’s scheduled to perform in New York this weekend.

Roman Polanski, director

In 1977, the filmmaker pled guilty to the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl. At 44, he hired Samantha Gailey as a model, gave her champagne and the powerful sedative Quaalude, and had sex with her at Jack Nicholson’s house. On the day before his sentencing, where he was expected to get up to 50 years in prison, Polanski fled to Europe, where he’s been living ever since. In recent years, a number of women have come forward and shared that they, too, had allegedly been assaulted by Polanski when they were young; one accuser said she was only 10 at the time.

Yet despite his guilty plea , Polanski has continued making movies (such as last year’s Based on a True Story), has received numerous awards, including a Best Director Oscar for his 2003 film The Pianist, and is still a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Ben Roethlisberger, NFL player

The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback has been publicly accused of rape in two separate incidents. In 2009, a casino worker filed a civil suit against Roethlisberger, alleging he raped her in his hotel room the year before. Her complaint stated that she "communicated her objection and lack of consent" and "begged 'Please don't.'" The case was eventually settled out of court, and the NFL took no punitive action.

In 2010, a Georgia college student reported to the police she’d been raped in a nightclub bathroom by Roethlisberger. Despite the fact that the responding officer had taken a photo with the quarterback earlier in the evening and later told Roethlisberger’s bodyguard, “We have a problem, this drunken [expletive], drunk off her ass, is accusing Ben of rape,” the district attorney chose not to pursue criminal charges. The student also wanted to avoid going to trial because of the "extraordinary media attention" it would receive. Roethlisberger was suspended by the NFL for four games.

Yet Roethlisberger is still going strong for the Steelers, where he’s spent his entire professional football career. He plans to return next season—according to Sports Illustrated, his contract with Pittsburgh runs through 2019, and he’s expected to rake in more than $23 million each of the next seasons.

Derrick Rose, NBA player

In 2016, a 30-year-old woman filed a civil lawsuit against Rose, then a New York Knicks player, and two of his friends, alleging they gang-raped her in 2013 while she was passed out from drinking. The woman, who used to date Rose, did not report the incident immediately. When she eventually did come forward, her attorney told the AP, Rose's legal team executed a "campaign of harassment" against her, threatening to make her identify public and involve her parents. The 2011 NBA MVP maintained the sex was consensual. During the trial, Rose was excused by the judge during jury selection and opening statements so he could play in a game. A jury ultimately found the woman’s claims not credible; afterward, all eight jurors took photos with Rose in the courthouse lobby.

Today, the rape allegations boil down to one sentence on his Wikipedia page, and Rose is point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Although he’s been on the sidelines for two months because of an ankle injury, he rejoined the team to the excitement of fans last Thursday. "I feel good,” he told reporters last week. “I haven't had any setback.”

Donald Trump, US president

To date, at least 16 women have come forward to share their stories of harassment and unwanted sexual advances by POTUS over the course of two decades. Among them, Trump's ex-wife Ivana Trump alleged that Trump raped her in a fit of rage in 1989. While she details the attack in the 1993 book, “Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump,” at the insistence of Trump's lawyers, she included a statement in the book that she did not mean rape in the "literal or criminal sense."

An unnamed woman filed a lawsuit in 2016 alleging Trump raped her in 1994 when she was 13 years old; the suit was dropped four days before the election due to “numerous threats,” her attorney said.

Although many of the allegations against Trump came out before the 2016 election, Trump is still the president of the United States.

Mike Tyson, former boxer

In 1992, Tyson was convicted of raping Desiree Washington, an 18-year-old Miss Black America pageant contestant in his hotel room. During the assault, he reportedly laughed while Washington cried. At his sentencing, Tyson told the judge: "I don't come here begging for mercy, ma'am. I can't see anything good coming from this. I'm here prepared to expect the worst. I've been crucified, humiliated worldwide." He was sentenced to six years of prison, and was released on parole after serving three.

But being convicted of rape didn’t stop Tyson's career. His boxing license was reinstated, and he was eventually inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Post-boxing life, he’s written two successful books, appeared in numerous TV shows and movies, was offered his own animated series on Adult Swim, and recently became the new face of an Australian car servicing company. (The ads feature him alongside scantily-dressed women.)

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rape
Bill Cosby
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woody allen