Thirty-five of Bill Cosby‘s alleged sexual molestation victims have posed for a photograph on the front of the July 27 edition of New York magazine, giving their accounts of what happened to them at the hands of now-controversial Cosby Show star.
The extraordinary feature includes each woman’s story in addition to an essay by Noreen Malone. Photographer Amanda Demme has taken an array of solo and group portraits, and the online version of the article includes several video interviews.
“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,” Malone says in her essay. “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.”
The testimony and photographs that follow display in no uncertain terms, the scale and diversity of the alleged abuse — with alleged victims ranging in age from their early 20s to 80, including women who were Playboy bunnies, TV writers, journalists, and waitresses.
“I went into this thinking he was going to be my father. To wake up half-dressed and raped by the man that said he was going to love me like a father? That’s pretty sick,” one of the women, Barbara Bowman, 48, said of her experiences with Cosby in the ’80s. “I felt like a prisoner; I felt I was kidnapped and hiding in plain sight. I could have walked down any street of 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.”
Cosby Show writer Sammie Mays, 57, claims an encounter with Cosby in 1987 derailed her life. “When I see Jell-O pudding, it comes flooding back,” she told the magazine. “Bill Cosby, that encounter, that one time, played a major factor in the direction my life took, toward the dark side.”
The New York article comes hot on the heels of recent revelations from a 2005 deposition in which Cosby admitted to using Quaaludes during sexual encounters, although he maintains they were used only during consensual sex.
“I think that I’m a pretty decent reader of people and their emotions in these romantic sexual things,” he said at the time.