Bill Cosby’s Accusers Won’t Stay Silent – Despite His Best Efforts

Photo: Victoria Will/AP Photo.
Today is going to be a bad day for Bill Cosby. The 78-year-old comedian who's been accused of assaulting dozens of women is being forced to appear in court in LA for deposition by one of his accusers, Judy Huth. Then, tonight, NBC is airing a sit-down with twenty-seven other women (yep, 27) who say Cosby assaulted them. "Things are picking up. There’s been a lot of momentum," Barbara Bowman, one of the first women to go public with her Cosby story last year, told R29. Bowman met Cosby in the 1980s when she was an aspiring model, and has written about how difficult it was to get people to take her seriously when she tried to speak out. "There has been a lot of interest and demand for truth, and so I think we’re going to see a lot of answers coming out very soon." The women speaking out against Cosby come from different backgrounds and have lived very different lives, but the details of their accusations remain disturbingly similar — alleged offers to help budding careers, drinks with a mysteriously strong effect, blackouts, and flashes of memories of violations.

"I was silenced... Cosby warned me to shut my mouth and disappear."

"I was silenced, because Cosby warned me to shut my mouth and disappear. There was a period of time where I was silenced because I didn’t want to lose my life. I didn’t want to lose my family’s life, and I wanted to move on. But after the initial fear was over, I was never that shy." In October of 2014, Bowman spoke to the Daily Mail and described multiple assaults by Cosby, starting when she met him as a 17-year old. According to Bowman, Cosby even moved her to an apartment in Manhattan to have her nearby. While Cosby has vehemently denied any wrongdoing at any point, he's also insulted the character of the women who have accused him of assault. He settled a 2006 lawsuit filed by one former Temple University employee who said he drugged and forced her to fondle him. More than a dozen women gave anonymous statements to support Andrea Constand's suit.

"These are just the women who have chosen to be public."

"These are just the women who have chosen to be public," Bowman said. New York Magazine published a powerful feature in July with the photos and stories of 35 women, including Bowman. Bowman is an artist who now lives in Arizona and works with Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment, a group dedicated to providing support and resources to sexual assault survivors. Cosby has never faced any criminal charges over his alleged actions, but there has been fallout from the avalanche of new accusations. Universities have revoked his honorary degrees, television series and specials have been canceled, and former supporters are speaking out against him.

"If I can bring one woman out of darkness by speaking out, that’s my goal."

For Bowman, justice isn't necessarily about specific legal consequences. Healing, and helping survivors of sexual assault find their voice, is the best path forward. “I said if I can bring one woman out of darkness by speaking out, that’s my goal," she said. " I was willing and ready to disappear and go on my way just to see one woman show her face in public to say, ‘Yes, Barbara Bowman, I know, I believe you, because it happened to me too.’" While it's impossible to know what the next year will bring after one that has been so huge, the women who have come forward are no longer along. "For me, I feel grateful, I feel like this year was God’s blessing on me and on 50 plus women," Bowman said. "It’s not easy, but it has been a worthy journey even though it’s a scary one. I want to be a friend to all of the ladies that come behind me, and I want the ladies who came before me to be my friend. I'm just another one of the bunch."

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