Holy shit, will pudding pops ever taste the same?
Legendary comedian Bill Cosby is better remembered for his sympathetic Heathcliff Huxtable character on his record-breaking sitcom The Cosby Show, his endearingly funny faces, his colorful sweaters, his love of Jell-O and his ability to market anything from White Owl cigars to the most successful parenting book ever.
So when the classic supermodel Janice Dickinson became the 15th (!) woman to publicly accuse Bill Cosby of sexual assault, you know something’s definitely wrong with that picture.
Dickinson told Entertainment Tonight that Cosby raped her in Lake Tahoe in 1982. She said that after Cosby gave her a pill for her stomach pain and a glass of wine, things got a bit blurry.
“The next morning I woke up, and I wasn’t wearing my pajamas, and I remember before I passed out that I had been sexually assaulted by this man,” she said on the ET interview. “Before I woke up in the morning, the last thing I remember was Bill Cosby in a patchwork robe, dropping his robe and getting on top of me. And I remember a lot of pain. The next morning I remember waking up with my pajamas off and there was semen in between my legs.”
Dickinson never reported the alleged incident to the authorities, and said that when she tried to write about it in her 2002 autobiography, Cosby’s lawyers pressured her publisher to remove the story.
A few days before Dickinson made the announcement, another woman named Joan Tarshis had claimed Cosby raped her in 1969, and recently spoke with Don Lemon on CNN Tonight. She explained she never went to the police because, “Who’s going to believe me? Bill Cosby, the all-American dad, the all-American husband. Mr. Jell-O that everybody loves. Who would believe me? They’d probably think I was out to get something.”
“He’s a serial rapist, actually,” Tarshis told Lemon. “I mean, when you rape at least 16 women, that’s serial. That’s a serial rapist, in my opinion.”
Cosby’s appeal as a trustworthy, solidly moral figure had been one of his calling cards for decades. He broke ground as one of the very first black people to serve as a spokesman on advertisement campaigns in the United States. In 1981, Anthony Tortorici, then Director of Public Relations at Coca Cola, famously said that the “three most believable personalities are God, (long time CBS anchorman) Walter Cronkite, and Bill Cosby.”
That’s possibly what a lot of women may have feared for years, and the reason they’ve kept silent all this time.
The rape allegations are nothing new. The first one to come out was a whole decade ago, when a woman named Andrea Constand, the former director of operations for the Temple University women’s basketball team, filed a lawsuit accusing Cosby of drugging and molesting her at his Pennsylvania home back in 2004. A few months later, another woman named Tamara Green claimed on a Today Show interview that Cosby had drugged and groped her back in the late 70s. Green came forward because of the similarity of Constand’s story to her own.
“I heard that there had been a sexual assault, and that by itself didn’t prompt me to come forward, but then I heard that this woman had been given pills, was in a position of trust and friendship with this man, and that behind the pills he took her clothes off and groped her and what have you,” Green told Matt Lauer back in 2005. “I thought, you know, after all these years, it’s the same M.O. The same old story, and I still didn’t come forward. But when I heard it reported that the district attorney had said that the story was weak, that she had not come forward in a timely fashion, that was for me them saying that they were not going to file the case. That they didn’t believe her. It was at that time I decided that if there were only two us, one a long time ago and one right now, then that’s two too many.”
Little did she know that another 13 women (and counting?) would join the list.
In the Constand case, the court papers showed 12 anonymous women who made similar allegations, and specified being roofied and raped after gaining their trust, because, well… he was Bill Cosby!
Cosby has never been convicted of any of the accusations against him. In late 2006, Cosby and Constand settled the lawsuit out of court and the terms were never disclosed.
Almost seven uneventful years later, Newsweek published interviews with Barbara Bowman and Tamara Green, in which some more disturbing details came up. While the other known cases were one-offs, Bowman’s story had a lot more recurring moments.
“I was assaulted a number of times from age 18 to 19. Cosby would warn me before out-of-town trips, ‘You aren’t going to fight me this time, are you?’” Bowman told Newsweek. “From then on, I would be praying and begging to God that it was in my imagination, it didn’t happen. I’d sit on the plane and say ‘Please God, please God, this is really about my career — I’m lucky.’ And then I’d get there and he would just intimidate me and make me so scared…”
In her own interview, Green even launched a challenge: “If (my story) weren’t true, why won’t he accept my invitation to take a public lie detector test? The offer is still on the table. Bill Cosby has done great things for the country, he’s provided hope to the poor and education for the worthy, but he’s also an old wanker and an assaulter.”
But somehow neither of those statements created much press buzz. During this past summer, NBC announced the development of a new show for next year starring Cosby, and Netflix produced a stand up special of his that was supposed to air on November 29th. However, after the recent accusations, both things have been cancelled.
Ironically speaking, it was a casual video recorded at a live show of another comedian that started this bigger P.R. nightmare for Cosby. The very funny Hannibal Buress was doing a set in Philadelphia and he went into a bit where he addressed Cosby’s constant negative criticism of younger black comics based on moral grounds, and then called him out on the rape stuff. When a video that included the Cosby rape bit surfaced online, it went viral, and national attention was brought back on the seemingly forgotten accusations.
“It was unexpected,” Buress said on Howard Stern of all the media attention the bit got. “It wasn’t my intention to make it part of a big discussion. It was just something I was doing at that venue, right there.”
But people now noticed, including other women who stepped up and made new accusations of their own.
It does speak highly of Cosby’s formerly spotless reputation that even with all that noise being around for a whole decade, his image suffered very little. He was still one of the most beloved and respected figures in entertainment.
The rape allegations keep coming, and at this point it wouldn’t be the least surprising if some other women come forward in the next few days.
Most people backing Cosby claim there is only hearsay and no actual proof. Many blame the women for not coming out when they claim the rapes happened. Then again, victim blaming can be just as bad, especially when there’s a strong possibility that some — if not all — of the allegations are true. A lot of rape victims don’t ever tell anyone about it, for a variety of reasons. It has to be an incredibly tough situation to be in.
In a way, being molested by Bill Cosby is like being molested by America’s dad. For a lot of people growing up in the 80s, Dr. Huxtable was that perfect father they never had; so to process the mind-fuck that would signify being sexually assaulted by the same guy, it might even also alter the way you feel about America, family and the world.
This is like being raped by Santa, except it’s somehow worse! Drunk and creepy Santas inhabit thousands of malls around the world; Cosby is one of the most beloved and respected personalities in the history of entertainment. He may have even sold more Coca Cola than Santa (a Coke-created character) ever did!
Of course, we should reserve judgment till we get all the facts, but let’s face it; things are not looking great for Bill Cosby right now.