Comic Hannibal Buress was in the middle of his stand-up routine in Philadelphia recently when he started making fun of Bill Cosby — but instead of making people laugh, he exposed a secret the beloved TV dad has been trying to hide for years.
“Bill Cosby has the f—ing smuggest old black man public persona that I hate,” Buress ranted. “Yeah, but you raped women, Bill Cosby. So, brings you down a couple notches…Well, yeah, you’re a rapist…I want to just at least make it weird for you to watch Cosby Show reruns…I’ve done this bit on stage, and people don’t believe. People think I’m making it up.”
It may not have been funny, but the comic wasn’t making it up. Over the years, no fewer than 13 women have accused Bill Cosby of sexually assaulting them, and Buress’ “joke” was enough to inspire one more woman to come forward.
Barbara Bowman was a 17-year-old aspiring actress in 1985 when a private “audition” with Cosby led to long-term abuse, she told Britain’s Daily Mail. Once, she said, “He turned out all the lights. I twas completely pitch black. He laid me down on the couch and started caressing and touching me all over. Then he put my hand on his penis, covering it with his hand. When it was over, I rand out of the room and threw up.”
In fact, Barbara said that the TV star assaulted her many times. In his New York City brownstone, she once woke up wearing different clothes and is certain the comic drugged and then sexually assaulted her. Another time, she claims he pinned her on the bed. “He was trying to unbuckle his belt and take down his pants,” she said. “I’m screaming for help and trying to wrestle out of his grip while he’s trying to get his belt off, and he’s trying to pull my pants down at the same time. I couldn’t get out from under him.”
Cosby has remained mum about Barbara’s claims, but her story is hardly unique. The family man’s philandering was first exposed in 1997, when he testified that he gave over $100,000 to a Las Vegas woman named Shawn Upshaw to keep mum about their affair. Later, Autumn Jackson went to jail for trying to extort $40 million from him in exchange for not revealing (the unproved claim) that he was her father.
In 2000, actress Lachele Covington, then 20, charged Cosby had fondled her breasts and exposed himself to her in his Manhattan home. Police dropped the charges because she pulled away when he attempted to go further. But four years later, Andrea Constand, filed a civil suit claiming that, after a 2004 party, the comic drugged her in his Philadelphia mansion, touched her breasts and put her hands on his genitals. Cosby settled the lawsuit, in which 13 women were set to testify to similar incidents.
In 2005, two more women came forward. Both claimed Cosby had drugged and assaulted them.
“I think this is just the tip of the iceberg,” says a source familiar with the controversies. “He seems like such a nice guy on TV, but as more people come forward, no one is going to believe that anymore.”
Whether Bill Cosby will ever face charges again is far from certain, but the source believes that his legacy, at least, has been irreparably damaged. “In Las Vegas, other comics jokingly call him The Bootie Bandit,” the insider reveals. “He comes across as this all-American guy, and he is living this whole other life behind the scenes.”
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