This weekend, yet another woman — the 14th — came forward with rape accusations against Bill Cosby. Publicist Joan Tarshis says the comedian drugged and assaulted her multiple times in 1969, a crime she kept silent about for decades. “As more and more of his rape victims have come forward, all telling similar stories,” Tarshis tells Hollywood Elsewhere, “the time is right to join them.”
At the time of the alleged assault, Tarshis was a 19-year-old comedy writer who had flown out to L.A. to work with Godfrey Cambridge. She met Cosby through some friends and began hanging around the set of his sitcom The Bill Cosby Show.
As she writes:
One day he asked me to stay after the shooting and work on some material with him. I was even more flattered and thought this would help move my writing career along. In his bungalow he made me a redeye [a Bloody Mary–beer cocktail], and I began to tell him about the earthquake Los Angeles had just had and the sound it made. He liked my ideas for an earthquake bit.
The next thing I remember was coming to on his couch while being undressed. Through the haze I thought I was being clever when I told him I had an infection and he would catch it and his wife would know he had sex with someone. But he just found another orifice to use. I was sickened by what was happening to me and shocked that this man I had idolized was now raping me. Of course I told no one.
Soon after, Tarshis returned home to New York. It was here, she says, that Cosby called her parents to invite her to one of his shows on Long Island. Not knowing how to refuse, Tarshis accepted the invitation:
He sent a limo to pick me up and I was dropped off at the Sherry Netherland Hotel and went up to his suite. I remember noticing that his leather shaving kit was filled with bottles of pills, and thinking that this seemed odd. He was, of course, very friendly and I, of course, was very uncomfortable. He made me a redeye, and I, being nervous and dealing at the time with an alcohol problem (I’ve been in recovery since 1988), drank it. In the car I had something else to drink, but was already beginning to feel a bit stoned.
“When we got to Westbury and he went on, there was no seat for me. I stood in the back of the theater with his chauffeur, feeling insulted that I wasn’t respected enough to be given a reserved seat. But soon after, I remember feeling very, very stoned and asking his chauffeur to take me back to the car. I was having trouble standing up. The next thing I remember was waking up in his bed back at the Sherry, naked. I remember thinking ‘You old shit, I guess you got me this time, but it’s the last time you’ll ever see me.’
Tarshis says she never spoke a word of the alleged assaults for 20 years. She joins more than a dozen women who have accused Cosby of raping them over the course of decades, including Barbara Bowman, who last week wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post, asking, “Bill Cosby raped me. Why did it take 30 years for people to believe my story?” Cosby has stayed silent about the charges, and his lawyer says the comedian “does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment.”