Model Beverly Johnson, who in 1974 became the first African American woman to appear on the cover of American Vogue, said in a piece in Vanity Fair that Bill Cosby drugged her about 30 years ago.
“My head became woozy, my speech became slurred, and the room began to spin nonstop,” she wrote. “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.”
Johnson said she cursed at Cosby, who forcefully stuffed her into a cab after the encounter, and she made it home. When she called a private number he had given her to confront him, she said, his wife answered the phone.
“I didn’t call back the next day or any other day after that,” she wrote. “At a certain moment it became clear that I would be fighting a losing battle with a powerful man so callous he not only drugged me, but he also gave me the number to the bedroom he shared with his wife. How could I fight someone that boldly arrogant and out of touch?”
Hers are the most recent allegations launched against Cosby, who made a $20 million gift to Atlanta’s Spelman College in 1988.
“Two Cosby daughters attended Spelman College. Our building is named after Dr. Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby. The endowed professorship is named after both Cosby parents,” Spelman President Beverly Daniel Tatum said in a recent statement.Though it is not appropriate for the College to comment publicly on specific allegations against any individual, sexual assault is a profoundly serious issue for any educational institution. Please know that we do not condone sexual violence in any form and understand our critical role as a women’s college to lead in the fight against it. I trust you will read all news media critically, informed by these facts.”
Johnson said the drugging incident occurred at a time when she was auditioning for a role on “The Cosby Show,” Cosby’s hit 1980s sitcom, but that she has kept quiet until now.
“I struggled with how to reveal my big secret, and more importantly, what would people think when and if I did? Would they dismiss me 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? Or would they see my open and honest account of being betrayed by one of the country’s most powerful, influential, and beloved entertainers?
“As I wrestled with the idea of telling my story of the day Bill Cosby drugged me with the intention of doing God knows what, the faces of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and countless other brown and black men took residence in my mind.”
Recent allegations made public by other women spurred Johnson to come forward, she said.
“The current plight of the black male was behind my silence when Barbara Bowman came out to tell the horrific details of being drugged and raped by Cosby to the Washington Post in November. And I watched in horror as my longtime friend and fellow model Janice Dickinson was raked over the coals for telling her account of rape at Cosby’s hands. Over the years I’ve met other women who also claim to have been violated by Cosby. Many are still afraid to speak up. I couldn’t sit back and watch the other women be vilified and shamed for something I knew was true.”