Woman who accused Bill Cosby of rape tells her story

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In a powerful piece for the Washington Post, one of the women who has accused Bill Cosby of rape, Barbara Bowman is telling her story.

Bowman has been telling her story for years: how in 1985, comedian Bill Cosby took advantage of the then-17-year-old aspiring actress, even sexually assaulting her and drugging then raping her. In her own words:

“Cosby won my trust as a 17-year-old aspiring actress in 1985, he brainwashed me into viewing him as a father figure, and then assaulted me multiple times. In one case, I blacked out after having dinner and one glass of wine… When I came to, I was in my panties and a man’s t-shirt, and Cosby was looming over me. I’m certain that he drugged and raped me. The final incident was in Atlantic City, where we had traveled for industry event. I was staying in a separate bedroom of Cosby’s hotel suite, but he pinned me down in his own bed while I screamed for help. I’ll never forget the clinking of his belt buckle as he struggled to pull his pants off. I furiously tried to wrestle from his grasp until he eventually gave up, angrily called me ‘a baby’ and sent me home to Denver.”

Sadly, she said, no one seemed to believe her. She told her agent and a lawyer, but neither did anything about it — so she didn’t go to the police, convinced that no one would help her. She told friends, who were also powerless, and eventually, she told her story to the media. For 10 years, she recounted her tale, but there was no national outcry, no backlash against the comedian.

That all changed with Hannibal Buress. When the comedian pointed out the rape accusations against Cosby in a sketch, the reaction was swift and harsh across social media and the news. Just this week, a Twitter campaign of Bill Cosby “memes” smeared with rape allegations lit up the Internet.

But Bowman now wonders why the public has finally taken notice of her plight and that of other women who were assaulted by Cosby now rather than any other time since they began telling their stories:

“Only after a man, Hannibal Buress, called Bill Cosby a rapist in a comedy act last month did the public outcry begin in earnest…. While I am grateful for the new attention to Cosby’s crimes, I must ask my own questions: Why wasn’t I believed? Why didn’t I get the same reaction of shock and revulsion when I originally reported it? Why was I, a victim of sexual assault, further wronged by victim blaming when I came forward? The women victimized by Bill Cosby have been talking about his crimes for more than a decade. Why didn’t our stories go viral?”

Bowman also calls for accountability for agents, aides, and others who stood by and either helped Cosby commit these crimes or did nothing to stop them. “Fixing this problem demands more than public shaming,” she says.

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