Bill Cosby to reporter: Questions about rape allegations should be 'scuttled'
Cosby was asked about the growing furor over claims of rape spanning nearly four decades by an Associated Press reporter when the comedian was promoting an exhibition at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art. The exhibit features the 77-year-old’s African-American art collection alongside African artworks. The reporter, Brett Zongker, asked Cosby about the allegations, and the actor replied, “No, no. We don’t answer that.”
"And I'll tell you why," Cosby said. "I think you were told... and I don't want to compromise your integrity, but we don't, I don't talk about it."
— Brett Zongker (@DCArtBeat) November 18, 2014
Later on in the interview, the 77-year-old (who was sitting next to his wife Camille) asked AP not to use his on-camera refusal to comment.
"Of what value will it have? And I would appreciate it if it was scuttled," Cosby told Zongker. "I think if you want to consider yourself to be serious, that it will not appear anywhere."
"And we thought, by the way, that since it was AP it wouldn't be necessary to go over that question with you... We thought the AP had the integrity to not ask," he added.
The wire service said the interview was on the record and that it had made no agreement to avoid questions about the allegations or to withhold publishing any of his comments at any time. The interview was taped on November 6. As the number of women accusing Cosby of sexual assault has increased, AP went back through the video and decided to publish the comedian’s full reaction to questions about the claims.
It’s not the first time Cosby has pressured someone to prevent the allegations from being published. Model and television personality Janice Dickinson came out as the third woman in just over a week to accuse the comedian of sexual assault. She said she originally wrote about the assault in her 2002 autobiography, 'No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World's First Supermodel' but that Cosby and his attorneys pressured her and the book’s publisher to remove the allegations.
In an interview that aired on Tuesday, Dickinson told ‘Entertainment Tonight’ that the rape occurred in 1982, at Lake Tahoe, California. She said the pair had been introduced previously by her agent, and that she was seeking a part on ‘The Cosby Show.’ Cosby had offered to help Dickinson with her singing career, and had invited her to his hotel room after dinner.
Dickinson said once in the hotel room, she asked Cosby for a pill to ease her stomach pains. He gave her a pill, along with red wine.
"The next morning I woke up and I wasn't wearing my pajamas and I remembered before I passed out I had been sexually assaulted by this man," she told ‘Entertainment Tonight,’ adding that she remembered Cosby dropping the robe he was wearing and getting on top of her.
Dickinson wrote in the book that the night in Lake Tahoe ended differently. She told the show that she never personally confronted Cosby about the incident.
Cosby has weathered several assault accusations in the past, though he has never been charged for any of the cases. The longstanding allegations came to the fore once again in late October when, bemoaning Cosby’s “smuggest old black man public persona,” stand-up comedian Hannibal Buress called Cosby a rapist during a routine in Philadelphia.
On Thursday, a seventh woman came forward, claiming that the man known in the 1980s as “America’s Dad” had drugged and raped her in Las Vegas in 1976. Therese Serignese told WPTV she was 19-years-old when she met Cosby. He invited her to see his show, and then she ended up at an after party. Eventually, the two ended up alone, when the comedian offered her some pills.
"I took them, didn't know what they were didn't even ask. I just was intimidated I guess and I took them,” she said. “Then my next memory is feeling drugged and him having sex with me."
Serignese said she didn't know how she got home but remembers telling her mother the next day.
"She just looked at me and said 'maybe he'll take care of you’," she said.
Cosby let Serignese stay at his penthouse suite for several weeks, but later asked her to leave when she told him she might be pregnant, she said. It turned out to be a false alarm.
Years later, in the mid-1990s, she asked Cosby to fulfill a promise to give her money in return for receiving good grades in school. The comedian wired her $10,000, and his agent sent another check for $5,000, she told WPTV.
— WPTV (@WPTV) November 20, 2014
In 2005, another woman, Andrea Constand, came forward with a similar story. Serignese served as one of 13 unnamed witnesses with similar claims ‒ she identified only as Jane Doe 10 ‒ in the civil suit against Cosby. In late 2006, the comedian settled with Constand, who had claimed Cosby drugged, then sexually molested her in early 2004. Authorities never charged Cosby, citing lack of evidence.
In the last week, two more women came forward with similar allegations against Cosby. Barbara Bowman, writing in the Washington Post, and Joan Tarshis, in a Hollywood Elsewhere essay, described incidents in which they were drugged then raped by Cosby.
In an interview that aired on Saturday, Cosby refused to address the allegations when pressed by NPR’s 'Weekend Edition.' His attorney, John P. Schmitt, released a statement on Sunday saying Cosby would not comment on the claims made against him.
"Over the last several weeks, decade-old, discredited allegations against Mr. Cosby have resurfaced. The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true. Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment,” Schmitt wrote. “He would like to thank all his fans for the outpouring of support and assure them that, at age 77, he is doing his best work. There will be no further statement from Mr. Cosby or any of his representatives."