Bill Cosby Shows Once Again, We Listen to the Wrong People When It Comes to Sexual Assault
Bill Cosby is back in the headlines this week after the Associated Press made public a 2005 court deposition in which he admitted to obtaining drugs to give to a woman in order to "have sex with," or rape, her. It's the first such admission we've heard from the now-disgraced comedian amid the dozens of women who came forward to publicly accuse Cosby of drugging and raping them on occasions that date back to the 1960s.
But the news is also proof of another truism about how our culture deals with women who say that they've been sexually assaulted.
Even after a few women stepped forward to bring Cosby's actions to light, it took two men to raise concern and then verify the stories of nearly 40 female accusers. The first was comedian Hannibal Buress, whose November stand-up set about the accusations against Cosby went viral. The second was Cosby himself, whose lawyers fought bitterly for months to keep the decade-old deposition from going public.
Every 107 seconds, a sexual assault takes place in the United States. The vast majority of those assaults — 68% — are never reported to police, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. Most of those assaults are committed by a friend or acquaintance of the survivor, not some stranger popping out of the bushes and following them home late at night.
It's very rare for someone to lie about being raped. In fact, according to the Huffington Post, it's more likely that someone will commit insurance fraud than lie about being raped; most studies put false rape reports at about 7%. Still, when close to 40 women came forward and accused one of Hollywood's most beloved stars of rape, they were met with skepticism. Cosby, on the other hand, was cheered by fans and defended by colleagues and family members.
Here are the women who've gone public about Bill Cosby:
1. Kristina Ruehli said Cosby raped her at 22 in 1965, when she was a secretary at a talent agency.
2. Carla Ferrigno said Cosby tried to rape her in 1967 and she had to fight him off.
3. Joan Tarsis said Cosby raped her in 1969.
4. Cindra Ladd said Cosby also raped her in 1969. She wrote about it for the Huffington Post.
5. Victoria Valentino said Cosby raped her in 1970. She later spoke about the incident with the Washington Post.
6. Autumn Burns said Cosby raped her in 1970 too.
7. Louisa Mortiz said Cosby raped her in the dressing room of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show in 1971.
8. Donna Motsinger said Cosby raped her in 1971. She later sued.
9. Katherine McKee said Cosby raped her in the early 1970s while she was on tour with Sammy Davis Jr.
10. Helen Hayes said Cosby stalked her and her friends in 1973 before groping her.
13. Marcella Tate said Cosby took her to the Playboy Mansion in 1975, gave her a drink that made her pass out, and then woke up the next morning naked with him in a strange bed.
14. Therese Serignese said Cosby drugged and raped her in 1976. She later sued.
15. Shawn Brown said Cosby drugged and raped her in 1973, while the two were in a relationship. Brown later gave birth to Cosby's daughter, Autumn Jackson.
16. Joyce Emmons said Cosby drugged her in the late 1970s, and that she later woke up in bed with one of Cosby's friends.
17. P.J. Masten said Cosby drugged and raped her when she worked as a Playboy Bunny in Chicago in 1979.
18. Linda Kirkpatrick said Cosby drugged and raped her in a dressing room at the Las Vegas Hilton in 1981.
19. Lynn Neal (an assumed name) said Cosby drugged and raped her in 1981.
20. Janice Baker Kinney said she was drugged and raped by Cosby in 1982.
21. Janice Dickinson said she was drugged and raped by Cosby in 1982.
24. Heidi Thomas said she was drugged and raped by Cosby in 1984.
23. Beth Ferrier said she was drugged and raped by Cosby after ending an affair with him in the mid-1980s.
25. Beverly Johnson said she was drugged and almost raped by Cosby in the mid-1980s.
26. Sammie Mays said she was drugged and raped by Cosby in the mid-1980s.
27. Barbara Bowman said she was drugged and raped by Cosby in 1986. She later sued and wrote a Washington Post op-ed titled "Bill Cosby Raped Me. Why Did It Take 30 Years for People to Believe My Story?"
28. Lisa Jones said Cosby tried to rape her in 1986. She was 17.
29. Chelan, whose last name hasn't been made public, said Cosby drugged and raped her in 1986.
30. Jena T. (shown above) says that Cosby began to groom her when she was 17, and forced her to give him a handjob in 1988.
31. Lisa, whose last name has not been released, said Cosby drugged and raped her in 1988. She was 21.
32. Jewel Allison said she was drugged and raped by Cosby at his home in the late 1980s. She later called him a "very sick sociopath."
33. Kacey, whose last name hasn't been released, said Cosby drugged and raped her in the early 1990s.
34. Angela Leslie said Cosby tried and failed to drug her in 1992 before making her give him a handjob.
35. Lili Bernard said Cosby raped her in The Cosby Show studio in 1992.
36. Michelle Hurd said Cosby would make her do "weird acting exercises were he would move his hands up and down my body" in 1995. She turned down his advances to go to his house.
37. Lachele Covington filed a police report in 2000 saying Cosby tried to make her grope him.
38. Andrea Constand said Cosby drugged and raped her in 2004. She later sued and settled out of court.
39. Chloe Goins said Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in 2008. She's since lawyered up, but Cosby has yet to be charged.
Sometimes it's hard to see patriarchy. And sometimes it isn't.