Entertainment & Arts

Bill Cosby: 35 of his accusers speak to New York magazine

New York Magazine cover Image copyright New York Magazine
Image caption The cover features 35 of the women who have come forward and an empty chair to signify those who have stayed silent

Thirty-five of the women who have accused Bill Cosby of rape or sexual assault have been photographed and interviewed by New York Magazine.

The striking cover story features women aged up to 80, including supermodels Beverley Johnson and Janice Dickinson, waitresses and journalists.

Mr Cosby denies any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crime.

Barbara Bowman told the magazine: "I felt like a prisoner; I felt like I was kidnapped and hiding in plain sight."

She continued: "I could have walked down any street in Manhattan at any time and said: 'I'm being raped and drugged by Bill Cosby,' but who the hell would have believed me? Nobody, nobody."

The online New York Magazine article - which appeared to have crashed the website on Monday morning - features many similar stories, accompanied by six video interviews and portraits and group photographs by Amanda Demme.

'Powerful weapon'

"The group of women Cosby allegedly assaulted functions almost as a longitudinal study," said the Magazine, "both for how an individual woman, on her own, deals with such trauma over the decades and for how the culture at large has grappled with rape over the same time period."

It continued: "In the 60s, when the first alleged assault by Cosby occurred, rape was considered to be something violent committed by a stranger... But among younger women, and particularly online, there is a strong sense now that speaking up is the only thing to do, that a woman claiming her own victimhood is more powerful than any other weapon in the fight against rape."

In some US states there is a statute of limitations on rape cases, meaning that there is effectively an expiry date for allegations of crimes. The time limit varies from state to state.

In the Cosby case, many of the accusations date back to the 1970s and 1980s - too long ago in the eyes of the law.


Statute of limitations explainer

The statute of limitations is a time limit in which a person has to file a claim. If the time limit expires, the individual who wishes make a claim is barred from doing so.

Reasons for the time limit include witnesses moving or dying or an increase chance of evidence being lost or degraded.

The statute of limitations differs from state to state - California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Montana, Texas and Washington have a 10-year statute of limitations. Maine has an eight-year statute. Minnesota has the shortest statute of limitations of three years.

A few states have statutes of limitations that are longer than 10 years. Pennsylvania has a 12-year statute of limitations while Georgia, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. have 15-year statutes of limitations for some forms of rape.

However many states do not have a statutes of limitation on rape.

Source: HG.Org


Lili Bernard, an actress who appeared in The Cosby Show, told the magazine: "In the early 1990s, in my mid-20s, Bill Cosby mentored me. He gained my total trust and then he drugged me without my knowledge.

"He raped me. I wouldn't call him crazy… I felt that he was very much in control of his behaviour."

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Cosby has denied any wrongdoing through his representatives

The magazine said more than 40 women had so far come forward and many they spoke to said they know of others who have chosen to remain silent. The empty chair in the cover image has already sparked its own debate and a Twitter hashtag #TheEmptyChair.

Cosby has made the headlines several times this month, with the prestigious African-American institution, Spelman College, discontinuing his professorship at the weekend in light of the allegations.

Recently released court documents from a 2005 civil case with Andrea Constand - who does not appear in New York magazine - show he had admitted obtaining sedatives to give to women before sex.

But Cosby's lawyers said he was only one of many people who introduced the sedatives - Quaaludes - into their "consensual sex life in the 1970s".

They said that at no point had Mr Cosby admitted to having any non-consensual sex or giving any women drugs without their knowledge.

The comedian has not been charged with any crimes.


Timeline of allegations against Bill Cosby

2000: Lachele Covington, a 20-year-old actress, reportedly files a police report saying she had been inappropriately touched. No further action was taken.

2005: Andrea Constand sues Mr Cosby for sexual assault. The case is eventually settled out of court in 2006.

2014: Over the year, dozens of women make public accusations that Mr Cosby sexually assaulted them. Live shows are cancelled across the country amid protests.

November 2014: TV network NBC scraps plans for a new show with the comedian following allegations by TV presenter Janice Dickinson that he had assaulted her in 1982. Repeats of the Cosby Show are also pulled from cable TV.

December 2014: Judy Huth sues Mr Cosby for molesting her in 1974 when she was 15 years old. Cosby counter-sues, claiming she is trying to extort money from him.

May 2015: Mr Cosby speaks publicly about the allegations for the first time. "I can't speak; I just don't want to argue; I don't talk about it," he told ABC News.

July 2015: Court papers made public from Constand's 2005 civil case reveal Mr Cosby admitted obtaining sedatives with the intent of giving them to women he wanted to have sex with.


Related Topics

More on this story