Dylan Farrow’s accusations that Woody Allen molested her when she was seven have been all over the Internet this week, even though the allegations have been public knowledge for over two decades. As Gawker pointed out, Allen’s not the only beloved celebrity facing accusations of sexual assault that were much discussed, then largely forgotten -- multiple women have accused Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them. Cosby has repeatedly denied the allegations, and settled a 2006 lawsuit that included 13 accusers.
Newsweek spoke to one of those women, Tamara Green, a former trial attorney now living in Southern California who says Cosby assaulted her in the 1970s; she only came forward in 2005, after hearing about some of his other alleged victims. Green talked candidly about how her confession was a “career-ender,” and about how difficult it can be for women who accuse powerful men of sexual assault.
How did you know Bill Cosby?
I met him when I was a 19-year-old model in the 1970s. I was really pretty and I thought the world was my oyster. I thought, “Of course people will invite me places.” I was friends with a plastic surgeon who knew [Cosby], and we would all go to the racetrack together. I was in charge of driving the limo so they could all get loaded and I’d drive them home.
He asked me to help him raise capital for a club he wanted to start. One day, I called him to cancel a meeting because I was feeling really sick, and he said, "Why don’t you come over to this restaurant I’m at, you’ll feel better if you have lunch.” I sat down, and he gave me what he said was two pills of [an over-the-counter cold medicine]. I swallowed them, and 20 minutes later I felt terrific; 30 minutes later, I was face-down in my soup. He volunteered to take me home. And then, because I was so ill, he volunteered to undress me and put me to bed. I started fighting him -- I took a lamp and broke a window. He finally left. When I woke up, I saw that he left two 100-dollar bills on the table next to my front door. I was so sincerely and deeply infuriated that, even through the drugs.... I was crazed. I wanted to rip his neck off.
The next day, I went to go visit my brother, who was in the terminal ward at a children’s hospital. Cosby, smart man that he is, had been to the hospital to give presents to the kids. By the time I got to the hospital, my brother was glowing that the great Bill Cosby had given him a portable radio.
Why did you come out with your story, decades later?
I was sitting in my kitchen [in 2004] and saw CNN was covering the “allegation” that another girl had been drugged and assaulted by him, and I thought, surely this will all come out now, surely it’s happened all over the place. Then the district attorney issued a statement that it was still under investigation, but it seemed a “he said / she said” type of situation, as all sexual assault cases are. So I called and left a very substantial message, and I didn’t hear from them. I called the detectives, and didn’t hear from them either. All I wanted to do was back her up, so I called her lawyer, and they took my statement and listed me as a Jane Doe. Then, the media found me, and completely assaulted me.
The first thing I thought when I heard [the 2004 allegations] was, “Really, at [his] age?” I guess the drugs explain all that.
A lawyer told me I would be crazy to come out after 20 years and accuse him. But I waited and waited to see who would back this girl up, and nobody else would. The Cosby team started smearing her, making her seem petty and loose and cheap.
I saw how nobody believed her. She had trusted him, and he had drugged her and then assaulted her, just like what happened to me. I saw that nobody was going to take him on, so I felt like it was my duty to risk my neck and stand [up] for all the other women who’ve been assaulted by him.
Why did you wait so long to report this to the authorities?
I always get asked that question. Here’s a question: that girl who he attacked in 2004, how did it work out for her? It never works out, unless you’re bleeding and there’s DNA and an eyewitness. I was 19 and he was the king of the world, so how was it going to work? I was a teenager. Nobody would’ve believed me.
What happened as a result?
It was a career-ender when I came forward. All my clients were suddenly interested in whether I was a liar or a former hooker or a philanderer. People want their lawyers to be serious-minded intellectuals, honest and honorable people. It casts a shadow on your character if you dare to attack one of these icons. The whole community -- my neighbors, my friends, people in the industry [her ex husband is an Academy Award-winning writer and producer] -- hinges your identity upon what happened. To come out and admit that you’ve had a guy’s hands all over you is disgusting to some people. People accused me of seeking my own fame, but I had a high profile of my own. I don’t need a rapist or child molester to make me famous.
Matt Lauer seemed pretty skeptical when he interviewed you for the Today Show in 2005. What was that like?
He was particularly irritated when he interviewed me because he was dealing with a sexual harassment lawsuit of his own at the time. He is also a little guy who is losing his hair. That must make him cranky... He kept saying, “If you make this accusation, you’re not going to be able to unring the bell.” I said, “All you have to do is keep your pants on and keep your hands to yourself. It’s not that hard.” If you do, this won’t happen to you.
Do you know Cosby’s other alleged victims?
I’ve talked to some of [Cosby’s] victims; other women who were not in the lawsuit [which Cosby eventually settled] contacted me and apologized that they could not come forward because they did not want their husbands or their children or their social circles to know they had been his victims. I’ve also been contacted by other women who have been assaulted by other celebrities. They say, “We have no voice.”
All the women [who claim he assaulted them] were from out of town, they didn’t have boyfriends who were football players or brothers or fathers in LA to chase him down, they were girls who had downtrodden shoes and were looking for fame and glory in that classic “Just got off the bus in Hollywood" way.
What do you think about Cosby’s new show?
He’s going to be Dr Huxtable again, right? And that’s what the USA thinks he is. They think he’s Dr. Huxtable...
Do you think he’ll ever respond to your allegations?
Cosby told reporters [in 2005] that he didn’t remember my name. I don’t really think it was my name he was interested in!
Once I ran into him in a hallway in Las Vegas and pointed at him and began screaming ‘Rapist! Liar! Asshole!” and he and his whole entourage ran and hid in the bathroom! I told him the last time I saw him that I was going to tell everyone in the world.
If [my story] weren’t true, why won’t he accept my invitation to take a public lie detector test? The offer is still on the table. Bill Cosby has done great things for the country, he’s provided hope to the poor and education for the worthy, but he’s also an old wanker and an assaulter.
The trauma of [that] assault never goes away... It’s as fresh in my mind as it was the next day. And women all over the country live with that.
Cosby’s publicist gave Newsweek this statement: “This is a 10-year-old, discredited accusation that proved to be nothing at the time, and is still nothing.”