By NICOLE WEISENSEE EGAN firstname.lastname@example.org
The head of a state advocacy group for rape victims yesterday called on
Walter Phillips Jr., Bill Cosby 's attorney, to resign as director of a
group that helps crime victims.
"I hope that he'd make the right decision and the right decision is to
resign," said Delilah Rumburg, executive director of the Pennsylvania
Coalition Against Rape. "I need to listen to what the advocates in the
field are saying and they clearly feel that he cannot represent Mr.
Cosby and still represent the best interests of victims as chair. It's
a conflict of interest. "
Phillips has angered victim's advocates with comments he made in the
Cosby case, Rumburg said. He has criticized the alleged victim for
waiting a year to report to authorities that Cosby allegedly drugged
and groped her and called her claims "bizarre" and "preposterous. "
Gov. Rendell appointed Phillips as head of the Pennsylvania Commission
on Crime and Delinquency in March 2003. It is an unpaid position, but
Phillips gets reimbursed for expenses and for attending meetings. The
organization's purpose is to prevent crime and delinquency and respond
to the needs of victims of crime, according to Phillips' statement on
the Web site.
Senate Majority Whip Jeff Piccola also criticized Phillips, in a news
release issued by his office.
"I think he needs to make a decision whether he's going to represent
criminal defendants or be an advocate for victims of crime, which the
PCCD historically has been," Piccola said in an interview. "So I think
he needs to make that choice. "
Last night, Phillips said he was leaving the response to Rumburg and
Piccola's comments to Gov. Rendell. Kate Philips, Rendell's
spokeswoman, said there's no need for Walter Phillips to resign because
there is no conflict of interest.
"Wally Phillips is a renowned attorney and if there were a conflict of
interest or a challenge to him performing his duties as chair and him
defending any client, then he would recuse himself from any situation
that would be in conflict," Kate Philips said.
Rumburg also said she is "outraged" by comments Montgomery County
District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. made Wednesday about the Cosby case.
At a news conference, Castor said it is unusual for adult sexual
assault victims to delay reporting the crime to authorities.
"That's just unconscionable to say that you would cast doubt on a
victim because they waited a year to come forward," Rumburg said. "We
see this all the time. And here's the perfect example why - they're not
going to be believed. The criminal justice system is questioning them
in the media. And this whole fear of repercussion from the perpetrator.
The shame. It's pretty consistent. "
Rumburg said she also didn't like Castor saying the key issue in making
the decision about whether to prosecute rested on whether there was
"We punish people for intentional or reckless criminal conduct," Castor
said at the news conference. "We don't punish people for making
mistakes and doing stupid things. "
"It almost said this assault has been reduced to a mistake," Rumburg said. "I said, 'Wait a minute. ' We're talking about an assault. Not a mistake. Right there, that comment minimizes the fact that someone has been accused of sexual assault. "
Castor could not be reached for comment last night. *