If you’ve followed the trials of Bill Cosby, you may have noticed Caroline Heldman in the background with the victims. We endeavor to discover who Heldman is, and why she took such a keen interest in Cosby’s trials.
Who Is Caroline Heldman?
Caroline Heldman is a bit of a renaissance woman. She’s a TV personality, political commentator, martial artist, blogger, and teacher.
The 45-year-old has an education mainly focused on political science. She gained her MA in the subject in 1998, and her PhD. in 2002. She went on to be an associate professor at Whittier College from 2002 to 2006, and followed that with a position as a professor at Occidental College.
According to her bio at the Women’s Media Center, Heldman specializes in “the American presidency and systems of power, as well as media, gender, and race in the American context.” Her work was featured in publications and websites like Ms. magazine, The New York Times, and the Huffington Post, among others.
According to her professional bios, Heldman splits her time between New Orleans and Los Angeles. She is a long-time practitioner of Taekwondo, and currently holds a fourth-degree black belt in the martial art.
Her advanced knowledge of politics and political systems made her a popular commentator on the subject. She appeared as a guest on various Fox News programs, as well as on CNN and MSNBC. She’s best-known for her time working at Fox News.
In 2017, when details about Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment scandal began leaking to the public, Heldman came forward with her own stories of harassment from not only O’Reilly, but Fox News host Eric Bolling. She also spoke of baseball player Lenny Dykstra and KISS bass player Gene Simmons, both of whom she accused of sexual harassment.
Heldman detailed these accusations in a long Facebook post, mentioning the story of a makeup artist who was allegedly harassed by Simmons to the point of tears. The same post alleges that Dykstra harassed both Heldman and a makeup artist.
While she never went public with details about O’Reilly’s harassment, she did file a formal complaint with Fox. According to Heldman, O’Reilly’s harassment started with their first meeting. She told People that one of the first things O’Reilly said to her was, “When I was in college, professors didn’t look like you.”
Heldman went on to say that when she began to push back against the sexism and harassment on O’Reilly’s show, she was essentially blacklisted from the program, which affected her career opportunities at Fox News.
She also accused Fox News host, Eric Bolling of similar behavior, after he was suspended for sending photos of his private parts to female coworkers. Heldman stated that Bolling texted and called her to suggest that she come to New York, where they could have some “fun.” He also called her “Dr. McHottie” while they were on-air.
In short, Heldman claimed that Fox News created an atmosphere that made these predators feel safe.
Heldman Attends the First Cosby Trial
If you followed both trials, you may have noticed that Heldman was a familiar sight. But why was she there? Heldman was not one of Cosby’s accusers, but she went to the trials both as a writer and supporter of the victims.
She wrote a lengthy piece on her experiences at the first Cosby trial for Vice. While covering the trial, Heldman got to know the various women who had accused Bill Cosby of rape but were not permitted to testify or bring their own criminal charges against them.
At the time, Heldman wrote about the mistrial and the tragedy of the system. “For me, this trial reinforced lessons I learned long ago: that rape culture is real, that false myths about rape trump evidence for many people, and that virtually no survivors see justice in our judicial system.”
The Cosby Retrial
When Cosby went back on trial, Heldman again was there with the victims. During the previous trial, she had gotten to know and bonded with the women who had accused Cosby of rape. And while these women would not get their own day in court, they hoped some justice might still be served.
And for the moment, barring appeals, justice has prevailed. Cosby was found guilty on all three counts of rape. Heldman’s post after this trial had a much more positive tone.
On Facebook, she wrote in a post that accompanied a photo of her and Lili Bernard (one of Cosby’s alleged victims): “Survivors so rarely get justice in sexual assault cases, and when the verdict was read, we were overcome with emotion and kindly escorted from the courtroom. It was a beautiful day for justice.”