Beverly Johnson, a groundbreaking and iconic African-American former model, became the most high-profile woman to accuse comedian Bill Cosby of drugging her with the intention of sexual assault in a personal essay published Thursday by Vanity Fair.
In the piece entitled “Bill Cosby Drugged Me. This is My Story,” Johnson recounts a harrowing encounter with Cosby after she auditioned for a small role on his hit sitcom “The Cosby Show.” Johnson claims that Cosby invited her to his home in New York City to rehearse scenes of “pretending to be drunk,” plied her with cups of coffee which she believes were laced with drugs. Unlike other recent accusers, Johnson says the incident ended there and does not say a sexual assault took place.
“My head became woozy, my speech became slurred, and the room began to spin nonstop. Cosby motioned for me to come over to him as though we were really about to act out the scene. He put his hands around my waist, and I managed to put my hand on his shoulder in order to steady myself,” writes Johnson. “As I felt my body go completely limp, my brain switched into automatic-survival mode. That meant making sure Cosby understood that I knew exactly what was happening at that very moment.”
According to Johnson, she resisted his overtures and a violent reaction ensued. She alleges that she peppered Cosby with expletives and that the comedian physically threw her out of his home. “I recall his seething anger at my tirade and then him grabbing me by my left arm hard and yanking all 110 pounds of me down a bunch of stairs as my high heels clicked and clacked on every step. I feared my neck was going to break with the force he was using to pull me down those stairs,” wrote Johnson.
“For a long time I thought it was something that only happened to me, and that I was somehow responsible. So I kept my secret to myself, believing this truth needed to remain in the darkness,” added Johnson.
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Johnson is, to date, the most prominent of Cosby’s multiple accusers, most of whom have gone public in the wake of renewed media coverage in the last month of alleged sexual assaults by the comedian which date back several decades. Although Cosby has never been charged with a crime and has denied past allegations made against him, the controversy has severely tarnished the 77-year-old’s reputation and previously wildly-successful career. This month, Cosby has been subjected to a civil suit by a now 55-year-old woman who claims he assaulted her at the Playboy mansion 40 years ago and a new complaint from Tamara Green, a woman who nearly brought charges against Cosby in 2005 before she settled with his estate outside of court.
Cosby’s attorney Marty Singer told NBC with regards to Green’s complaint: “We are very confident that we will prevail in this proceeding and we will pursue claims against the attorneys who filed this action.” Singer has also previously called the wave of allegations against Cosby “unsubstantiated” and “fantastical.” NBC News has reached out to Singer for comment on the Johnson claims but has not heard back at this time.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told reporters last week that his department is “willing and prepared” to investigate any and all accusations brought against Cosby.
Johnson, who became one of the first-ever black supermodels in the 1960s and ’70s, says that the flurry of Cosby coverage over the last four weeks motivated her to come forward. She admits failing to speak out sooner for fear of being characterized as an “angry black woman intent on ruining the image of one of the most revered men in the African-American community over the last 40 years.” She also said that the fates of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin – all unarmed black youths killed by white men – also contributed to her decision to go public.
“I reached the conclusion that the current attack on African-American men has absolutely nothing to do at all with Bill Cosby, ” writes Johnson. “He brought this on himself when he decided he had the right to have his way with who knows how many women over the last four decades.”