7th Woman Accuses Bill Cosby of Sexual Abuse Publicly & Has a Powerful Reason for Coming Forward

In news that only continues to get more horrifying, another woman has publicly come forward with allegations against Bill Cosby. If you're keeping track, there are an estimated 14-16 women who have accused the comedian of sexual assault over the years, with some remaining anonymous. Supermodel Janice Dickinson is one of the women who have openly spoken out against The Cosby Show star. Joining the list, Therese Serignese, a nurse from Florida, told HuffPost Women that she was drugged and raped by Cosby in 1976.

While this is the first time Serignese is publicly telling her story, it's not the first time she's speaking out. In 2005, Andrea Constand filed a civil suit against Cosby, and there were 12 anonymous witnesses with similar stories. Serignese was Jane Doe #10 in those testimonies, although the case was settled out of court. Explaining why she's speaking up once again, she told HuffPost, "I saw the other women coming out, and I just wanted people to know that this man is capable of what is being said about him. In my case, it happened."

Serignese, now 57, first met Cosby when she was 19 years old. He was headlining a show at the Las Vegas Hilton and she ran into him when browsing the hotel's gift shop. She recalls, "Somebody came up to me and put their arm around my neck from the back and said: 'Will you marry me?' And I turned around to see who it was, and it was Bill Cosby."

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After that, things took a turn for the worst. She went to see the show, but was escorted to a green room afterward. From there, he reportedly handed her two white pills and a glass of water. Here's what happened next:

The next memory I have was I was in a bathroom and I was kind of bending forward and he was behind me having sex with me. I was just there, thinking "I'm on drugs, I'm drugged." I felt drugged and I was being raped and it was kind of surreal. My frame of mind was that it would be over soon and I could just get out of there.

When she reached out to him after the incident, he allegedly provided a penthouse room in the Hilton for her for around three weeks, but kicked her out after a pregnancy scare. What followed was "intermittent contact" with Cosby over the next 20 years, including receiving two payments from his agent after a car accident in 1996. She kept silent until 2005, when she heard Cortland's story and felt the need to share her own.

When asked what she wants the public to know, she gave a powerful answer. It really captures why she's come forward again — no longer anonymously:

He has caused a lot of harm to a lot of women. And I believe that he owes each and every woman a sincere apology. I wish he would quit lying and denying it, because what helps [victims] heal, is that validation that someone hears you, that someone believes you, that you matter. It mattered. What happened to you mattered.

And that's why I'm reaching out, because over the course of 38 years, I have heard these stories about what a great guy he is. He certainly is funny. But he also predatorily abuses women.

Those last few sentences really say it all. Bravo to Serignese for courageously coming forward. Her emphasis on validating victims is so, so important.

As for Cosby's response to the allegations that have been making headlines recently, his lawyer released a statement on Sunday which reads,

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. 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.

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