Friday, May 1, saw new reports come in that two more women have stepped forward to accuse Bill Cosby of rape, putting the celebrity back in the spotlight. With these newest victims coming forward to oust the 77-year-old comedian, the number of women to accuse Cosby of rape totals more than 40. On Thursday, the two women went to the police in Atlantic City, where their alleged attacks had occurred. In New Jersey there is no statute of limitations for rape, which is bad news for the aging comedian.
Lili Bernard, an actress and Sammie Mays, a writer, unveiled their experiences at a press conference held Friday afternoon in New Jersey, accompanied by their prestigious attorney Gloria Allred. The news comes one day before Cosby is set to wrap up his latest national comedy tour in Atlanta. Despite the dozens of accusations against him, the man who once played Dr. Cliff Huxtable has never been charged with any crimes. He did, however, settle a civil lawsuit in 2005 regarding sexual misconduct.
Mays was a writer for a television convention in 1986 when her alleged experience occurred. The actor agreed to give her an interview in his hotel room, where she accepted his offer for a drink. The next thing Mays knew, she woke up barely sitting in a chair and drooling. Her blouse was unbuttoned with her breasts exposed, and her belt had been loosened. She looked up to see Cosby staring down at her with, according to Mays, seemingly clear intentions. She quickly got dressed and left the room, where once in the lobby she realized she had just dodged a bullet. In her own words she described “I knew I had survived an attack from a madman, one who hides his demons behind an alluring personality.” This is certainly not the kind of spotlight Cosby wants as he wraps up a national comedy tour, in which two more women accusing him of rape casts quite a dark cloud indeed.
Bernard, the second of the two accusers involved with the press conference seems to have experienced a considerably more traumatic event. The actress was portraying a character on The Cosby Show during its final season when Cosby took a liking to her, acting as her mentor. She alleges that once the actor had gained her trust and friendship, she was drugged and raped.
Unfortunately Bernard’s experience did not end there. She claims that the last time she saw Cosby was in the studio where the show was filmed in 1992, in which the actor told her,
“As far as I’m concerned, Bernard, you’re dead. Do you hear me? You’re dead, Bernard. You don’t exist, I never wanna see your face again. Now get the hell out of here!”
Bernard took this as a death threat, and says she feared for her life. Following the rape and death threat, she told those she trusted about the attack including her family and church pastor. Later, she became suicidal and was hospitalized. Apparently, she still suffers from panic attacks and night terrors as a result of the encounter.
Just last week, three other women stepped forward to reveal Cosby’s alleged nature. One is a former model named Marcella Tate, who says Cosby targeted and drugged her during a party at the Playboy mansion in 1975. All three of these women were reportedly in their 20’s when the attacks occurred. In the past, the actor’s lawyer, Martin Singer, has blatantly denied the sexual assault accusations brought against his client. Following Friday’s protest however, Martin would not give any commentary on the newest round of rape claims.
Over the last year, as more and more women have come forward to claim that Cosby raped them, many critics have wondered “why does it matter this long after it supposedly happened?” Bernard has an answer for them that any survivor of abuse can relate to. She stated, “I’m standing here to take back my power that was stripped from me, it’s time to finally confront the fear that paralyzed me for years.”
There are those who still stand behind the actor, despite being re-thrust into the spotlight with two more rape accusations. They tend to be friends, fellow comedians and actors. As one can imagine, it must be difficult to think one’s longtime friend could be capable of such disgusting acts. Considering this, some feel that the people who are still on the actor’s side need to take a step back and look at the whole picture, because sometimes it becomes hardest to see the truth when it is right in front of someone’s face.
Opinion By Benjamin Johnson
Photo by Shawn – Creativecommons Flickr License