An alcoholic. A drug addict. A devastated young mother whose six-year-old son had recently drowned in a swimming pool accident.
These are the vulnerable women who alleged that comedian Bill Cosby sexually preyed on them over a span of five decades. The Washington Post reports new details of their experiences this morning, amid a firestorm of controversy surrounding the comedian's alleged behavior. At this point, 16 women have accused Cosby of sexually assaulting them; 12 say he drugged them before forcing himself upon them, while another woman says that Cosby unsuccessfully attempted to drug her. As the Post reports:
The allegations are strung together by perceptible patterns that appear and reappear with remarkable consistency: mostly young, white women without family nearby; drugs offered as palliatives; resistance and pursuit; accusers worrying that no one would believe them; lifelong trauma. There is also a pattern of intense response by Cosby’s team of attorneys and publicists, who have used the media and the courts to attack the credibility of his accusers.
Indeed, it was the fear of near-certain demonization and disbelief that prevented many accusers from coming forward.
“Who was going to believe me?” writer Joan Tarshis, who says Cosby forced oral sex on her in the 1960s, said. “If he was a regular joe, I might have done something.”
Former Playboy Playmate Victoria Valentino -- the accuser whose six-year-old son drowned in a swimming pool -- voiced similar fears.
“What kind of credibility did I have?” she said. “In those days, it was always the rape victim who wound up being victimized. You didn’t want to go to the police. That’s the last thing you wanted to do back then.”
While Cosby's alleged assaults against Tarshis and Valentino occurred decades ago, accusations of sex abuse date to the mid-2000s, the Post notes. Andrea Constand, the director of operations for the women's basketball team at Temple University, charges that Cosby drugged her in January 2004 -- around the same time Cosby began to publicly rail against the behavior of young black men. The Post summarizes Constand's accusations:
Constand accused Cosby of leading her to a sofa, then touching “her breasts and vaginal area.” She said he “rubbed his penis against her hand, and digitally penetrated her,” the court records state.
All the while, she “remained in a semi-conscious state,” her attorneys wrote.
Constand said she lost consciousness afterward until 4 a.m., when she awoke “feeling raw in and around her vaginal area,” the court records state. Also, “her clothes and undergarments were in disarray,” according to the records.
When she awoke, there was Cosby, she said. He was in his bathrobe, the court records state. She said she left.
While a prosecutor believe Constand's accusations "in [his] gut," he never prosecuted the case, claiming there were "not enough details."
Constand and other accusers say that the passage of time hasn't healed the rawness of their wounds.
“Every time I hear his name mentioned and see him getting an honorary doctorate and see him as this father figure, it makes me nauseated,” Valentino said. “It’s so humiliating. Forty-four years later it makes me feel shameful.”
Read the Post's full report here.