Culture

The Many Accusers, Lawyers And Contradictory Statements Of Bill Cosby

CREDIT: AP/Matt Rourke

The number of women alleging Bill Cosby raped them rose from 14 to 15 last night when supermodel Janice Dickinson told Entertainment Tonight that, as she’d alluded to in her memoir, she was drugged and raped by Cosby in 1982. As for why she is coming forward now, Dickinson said, “I’m doing this because, I’ll tell you why: it’s the right thing to do, and it happened to me, and this is the true story.”

According to Dickinson, she was trying to get a part on Cosby’s show at the time; under the guise of aiding her burgeoning career and hiring her for The Cosby Show, Cosby invited her to Lake Tahoe. That night, in her room, Dickinson says he gave her a pill with red wine. She said:

“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… 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 did not confront Cosby with these allegations at the time. She says now that she tried to include the assault in No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World’s First Supermodel, her 2002 autobiography, but, under pressure from Cosby’s legal team, HarperCollins had her omit the attack from the book. The scene with Cosby remains; he appears creepy and inappropriate, but not criminal.

Cosby’s legal team responded to these allegations in yet another statement that erases, or at least confuses, the claims made in his two previous statements. This latest rebuttal, from Marty Singer, claims Dickinson’s “new story claiming that she had been sexually assaulted is a defamatory fabrication… Neither Mr. Cosby or any of his attorneys were ever told by Harper Collins that Ms. Dickinson had supposedly planned to write that he had sexually assaulted her, and neither Mr. Cosby or any of his representatives ever communication [sic] with the publisher about any alleged rape or sexual assault about the book.”

This comes only four days after a different lawyer representing Cosby, John P. Schmitt, posted a statement to Cosby’s website in response to rape allegations resurfacing. That statement read, in part, that the accusations had been “discredited” and said “The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true.”

But two days later, Schmitt’s initial statement vanished from Cosby’s site; in its place was a joint statement between Schmitt and Dolores Troiani, counsel to Andrea Constand. (Constand filed a lawsuit against Cosby in 2004 in which she claimed he sexually assaulted her; in 2006, they settled for an undisclosed amount.) In that statement, Schmitt and Troiani clarified that the first statement “was not intended to refer in any way to Andrea Constand,” presumably because it would have violated the terms of the 2006 settlement. “Neither Mr. Cosby nor Ms. Constand intends to comment further on the matter,” the statement concluded, except, apparently, Mr. Cosby did intend to comment further, in the face of any future allegations, like the one Dickinson made last night.

While Dickinson — a celebrity in her own right — was given a platform to speak mostly uninterrupted, a less famous accuser of Cosby’s was interviewed, terribly, on CNN. Don Lemon interviewed Joan Tarshis, who alleges Cosby raped her twice in 1969, on Tuesday evening’s CNN Tonight. After disclaiming his question with, “Please, I don’t mean to be crude, okay?”, Lemon proceeded to ask Tarshis why, when Cosby “made you perform oral sex,” she did not fend off Cosby’s rape by biting his penis — or, to borrow his elegant phrasing, “the using of the teeth… as a weapon… biting.” Lemon, ever the helpful Monday morning rape-prevention quarterback, wanted to clue Tarshis in on a trade secret: “You know, there are ways not to perform oral sex if you don’t want to do it.”

At the end of this exchange, Lemon said, “I had to ask.”

Hopefully, 45 years from now, someone will pull Lemon aside and tell him, you know, there are ways to not ask questions if you don’t want to do it.

Within hours of these segments airing, Netflix announced that Cosby’s upcoming comedy special, Bill Cosby 77, would be shelved indefinitely. (It was slated to premiere on November 27.) Cosby also has a sitcom in development with NBC; no word yet whether that project will go forward, although it seems highly unlikely that it will. As one anonymous industry insider told Vulture, “The reason you do a show with a Bill Cosby is because he’s beloved. That’s changed now.”

UPDATE

On Wednesday, NBC pulled the plug on its Bill Cosby-starring sitcom. The comment from the network did not specifically address the rape allegations against Cosby; it simply read, “We can confirm that the Cosby project is no longer in development.”

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UPDATE

Wednesday night, the AP released raw footage of Bill Cosby being confronted on camera about the allegations. Cosby refuses to address the allegation and then repeatedly asks the reporter not to air footage of the question being asked or his response. “I thought the AP had the integrity not to ask,” Cosby says.

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