“In 2004, when Andrea Constand filed a lawsuit against Bill Cosby for sexual assault, her lawyers asked me to testify. Cosby had drugged and raped me, too, I told them. The lawyers said I could testify anonymously as a Jane Doe, but I ardently rejected that idea. My name is not Jane Doe. My name is Barbara Bowman, and I wanted to tell my story in court. In the end, I didn’t have the opportunity to do that, because Cosby settled the suit for an undisclosed amount of money.”
With that forceful and startling opener, Barbara Bowman threw down the gauntlet in the Washington Post. This was not the first time she had said openly and without equivocation that she had been raped by comedian Bill Cosby. She had detailed her experience in The Daily Mail.
“I never took shut up money. My motivation to speak now is to expose Bill Cosby as the animal that he is. He went after me in that hotel room like an animal with such sexual prowess and force that he couldn’t control himself.”
In her Daily Mail interview, Bowman told how Cosby allegedly insisted that she think of him as a father, flew her first class to meet with him at different places, mentored her in acting exercises where he insisted that she “learn to be vulnerable.”
Barbara recounted times when she says Cosby touched her all over and guided her hands to touch his penis. She says he drugged and raped her one evening.
Barbara Bowman has been telling her story for ten years. Again and again she made her accusations in public, never hiding behind anonymity.
“In 2006, I was interviewed by Robert Huber for Philadelphia Magazine, and Alycia Lane for KYW-TV news in Philadelphia. A reporter wrote about my experience in the December 2006 issue of People Magazine. And last February, Katie Baker interviewed me for Newsweek. Bloggers and columnists wrote about that story for several months after it was published. Still, my complaint didn’t seem to take hold.”
Bowman is grateful that Hannibal Buress brought the rape allegations into the light. But she is angry that she and the other women who accuse Cosby of rape were ignored. She is angry that it took the derision from a man to get any significant attention to the matter.
Bowman acknowledges that the statute of limitations has passed on these accusations. She wants to push for legislation that changes that. But she also sees that Cosby has a new comedy special coming to Netflix and a new sitcom from NBC. She thinks that Bill Cosby is living a life full of rewards that ignore what she and others accuse him of doing.
So far, Cosby remains silent on all this. Being silent has worked for years. Most people seem to trust the image they see of Cosby: a model father, funny guy, wise mentor, safe for their family. They reason that, if Bill Cosby had done anything that he could be convicted of, he would have been convicted. But he has not even been charged. Right now he is innocent, because he has not been proven otherwise.
The American public is certainly willing to destroy a person’s career based on accusations alone, if they have the impression that he or she “probably did it.” They won’t want for a conviction. It may seem odd that Cosby isn’t shouting back, insisting on his innocence, suing anyone. But America likes Bill Cosby. And that gives accusers like Barbara Bowman a tough current to row against. Maybe Hannibal Buress gave their fight the push it needed. As Barbara Bowman points out, they certainly weren’t getting any traction on their own.