One by one, women are stepping up to say that Bill Cosby lured them in with the promise of advancing their careers and then took advantage of them (and drugged and raped them in some situations).
Supermodel Beverly Johnson is the latest to join the Cosby scandal, telling Vanity Fair that Cosby drugged her after luring her to his house under the pretense of “reading lines.”
When these allegations first surfaced, who among us wanted to believe that Mr. Jell-O Pudding and Mr. Cosby Show was anything other than the iconic comedian and father figure we grew up with? We walked the line between not dismissing a woman’s claim of rape (knowing that doing so has led to a culture where women — and men — don’t report rape for fear no one will believe them) and not wanting to tarnish our image of Bill Cosby.
Johnson, the latest to claim that Cosby took advantage of her, tells a chilling tale of how Cosby lured her to his brownstone by inviting her daughter. When the first visit went fine, she felt secure going back for a second visit, where Johnson said she was drugged by Cosby. That is diabolical — luring someone to your home and using their child to create a false sense of security.
Since these claims against Cosby have surfaced, few have run to Cosby’s staunch defense. After P.J. Masten, a former Playboy bunny, came forward and said she had been raped and drugged by Cosby, Hugh Hefner said Cosby was a good friend and that the thought of these allegations is “truly saddening.” There were no rants about Cosby’s character or how there was absolutely no way Cosby could have done these things, only that the allegations were “truly saddening.”
Colleague Debbie Allen’s defense is equally cryptic. She told the Today Show merely that the allegations were “hard to believe,” and went on to say that Cosby had given society a great gift with his show. “Cosby gave us one of the greatest shows in history and redefined the perception of black people all over the world.”
In Allen’s defense, she did say it was impossible to address the allegations in two minutes, but as with Hefner, there is no foot stomping. There is no rallying to Cosby’s defense. There is more of a “I don’t really think so” shoulder shrug attitude.
What Cosby needs is for longtime costars to rally in his defense, but we aren’t seeing that here. Raven-Symoné, who played Olivia on The Cosby Show, asserted through social media that Cosby never took advantage of her, but she was a child and so far none of the allegations have spread to children.
Lisa Bonet, who played Cosby’s daughter on the long-running sitcom, hasn’t said a word about the allegations. Outside of a fake tweet in Bonet’s name that referenced “karma” and how “nothing stays in the dark forever,” Bonet has kept silent on the allegations. When her rep denied that the Twitter account belonged to Bonet, it seemed like a perfect opportunity for Bonet to express her opinion on the topic. No such expression has been forthcoming.
Perhaps most damning of all is the silence of Cosby’s on-screen wife, Phylicia Rashad. As someone who worked closely with Cosby for years, don’t you think she’d be one of the first people to jump to his defense? As stated earlier, none of us wants to discount allegations of rape, but if that was your good friend and colleague, don’t you think you could drum up something diplomatic like, “The Bill Cosby I know is absolutely and unequivocally incapable of the things he’s being accused of. He’s always treated me personally with the utmost respect and the highest regard”? That’s a pretty safe way to defend your friend, right? Yet all we’ve heard from Rashad is crickets chirping. Is her silence more damning than even a watered-down public statement?
Perhaps Bonet and Rashad were not personally victimized by Cosby, but they may have known or speculated about what he was up to with other women. As Roseanne Barr tweeted, “He knew the score and understood the game.” Maybe costars were aware on some level of what Cosby was doing behind the scenes and accepted it as part of the disgusting and notorious Hollywood couch scene.
Even Cosby’s wife of 50 years, Dr. Camille Cosby, has been closed-mouthed in the face of these allegations. So why are those closest to Cosby not saying anything? Don’t you think after his long-running career, he’d be able to make a few phone calls and ask a few high-profile friends to speak out on his behalf? Where is the outrage and shouts of denial by those closest to Cosby?