35 Of Bill Cosby’s Victims Are Photographed And Interviewed For Incredible New York Cover Story
In a stunning piece of journalism, New York magazine photographed and interviewed 35 of the 46 women who allege that Bill Cosby drugged and/or sexually assaulted them, their images assembled into this sobering cover image. Noreen Malone spoke with all 35 women, who each shared their own personal Cosby story, many of them for the first time to the public, while Amanda Demme took their portraits.
Each survivor’s story is unique, but the similarities throughout show Cosby’s manipulative, deliberate, utterly unapologetic predatory behavior; many of the women were “groomed” with promises of mentorship by Cosby, while others considered him a friend prior to their assaults. Many of the women spent years believing that what happened to them was somehow normal or their fault, as it wasn’t until recently that “acquaintance” or “date” rape began to be taken seriously.
Barbara Bowman was drugged and raped by Cosby multiple times over a two-year period of “mentorship.” The last time occurred in Atlantic City, when Cosby turned violent. She tells New York:
I was invited down to Atlantic City to see his show and had a very confusing night where I was completely drugged and my luggage was missing. When I called the concierge to find out where my luggage was, Cosby went ballistic. He slammed the phone down and said, ‘What the hell are you doing, letting the whole hotel know I have a 19-year-old girl in my hotel suite?’ The next morning, he summoned me down to his room and yelled at me that I needed to have discretion. He threw me down on the bed and he put his forearm under my throat. He straddled me, and he took his belt buckle off. The clanking of the belt buckle, I’ll never forget.
Others knew that what Cosby had done to them was wrong, but didn’t dare come forward at first because they were sure no one would believe them. PJ Masten, a former Playboy Playmate who alleges she was drugged and assaulted by Cosby in 1979, explained:
I told my supervisor at the Playboy Club what he did to me, and you know what she said to me? She said: “You do know that that’s Hefner’s best friend, right?” I said, ‘Yes.” She says to me: “Nobody’s going to believe you. I suggest you shut your mouth.”
As Noreen Malone writes in the introductory essay, this group of women, while all victims of the same man, can be looked at as a representative of the wide range of responses rape victims have to their assaults:
The group of women Cosby allegedly assaulted functions almost as a longitudinal study—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. […] The first assumption was that women who accused famous men were after money or attention. As Cosby allegedly told some of his victims: No one would believe you. So why speak up?
Six of the women also gave video testimonials of their experiences, including Lili Bernard, who broke down into tears as she explained that she finally came forward because she has a daughter. She also said that Cosby should not be written off as “crazy,” that he was utterly calculated. Janice Dickinson also sat for a video, and told her story in graphic detail, saying that she woke up the next morning irrevocably changed.
The bravery of these women, who say they’ve formed a sort of sisterhood — and are “aunties” to each others’ children — is staggering, and we owe it to them to read every word of what they’ve courageously shared. (The feature is available to read to NYMag.com, however, it appears to be getting so much traffic that the entire site has crashed as of this writing.) The statute of limitations in nearly every single one of these cases is long past — the purpose of coming forward has been for their own healing, and to do what they can to stop Cosby from raping again.
UPDATE: Actually, it turns out that NYMag.com has been hacked and that’s why their site is down this AM (it’s unclear if the hack is Cosby-related). You can read an archive of the piece here.