The List of Bill Cosby Accusers Continues to Grow
After seeing other women speak out against Bill Cosby, another female has come forward and decided to talk publicly about her experience. Jena T. opened up about Cosby's assault in an interview with People, making her the 15th accuser to speak without anonymity. (Although she didn't allow the magazine to include her last name, she did let them publish her photo.) Jena's encounters with Cosby left her with trust issues for decades, People reports. She's also a former Jane Doe, who spoke with attorneys in 2005 and 2006 during Andrea Constand's civil case, which eventually settled out of court. As to why she's coming forward now, Jena told the magazine,
I get so excited when I see what I feel are my sisters coming forward. Every time the story comes up I feel a little bit more alive, like maybe one day this will be common knowledge and I won't have to be undercover anymore about this part of my life.
It's because of Bill Cosby that Jena, 44, moved from Maryland to New York City at age 17. In 1988, she was an aspiring model and Cosby even spoke to her parents, assuring them she would be just fine. Jena recalls, "He promised my parents he'd take care of me. The first time I met him, I had tears in my eyes." She says he "looked like" her father.
After getting Jena's parents on board with the move, Cosby invited all three of them to dinner. Jena's mom, Judy, remembers him seeming sincere:
Everything he said was reassuring. There was nothing that made me think we were sending her up there to be alone. New York would have been a definite "no" had it not been for the reassurance of this particular individual.
Betraying that trust, Jena began to feel uncomfortable soon after moving in. Cosby reportedly insisted they spent time together. He also repeatedly called her and asked her to dinner. Then in the summer of 1989, she mailed him a poem: "Receive a phone call from the Big Man / Who says he has a plan ... He is a thief, a hypocrite and a whore / Who only wants more." Although Jena didn't expect to hear from Cosby after that, she decided to go visit him in New York, hoping to gain closure. She says:
I decided there must be something wrong with me and I must go ahead and do whatever it was that he expected of me, and get better.
Instead of getting better, the complete opposite happened. Cosby expressed concern about the poem, worrying she had "emotional problems." He reportedly offered for her to stay in a mental health center, and then he'd buy her a car and send her to college. She declined this offer, but agreed to have lunch with Cosby and his friend Dr. Alvin Poussaint, a psychiatrist. (When contacted by People, Poussaint said doesn't remember this lunch.)
Things only got worse after that meal when Jena went back to Cosby's home. She says she "blanked out" what happened, but feels like he knew she was "ready to give in." Here's what she remembers:
He put his leg between my two legs, but I wasn't excited. But I knew that that was the point — I had to get him excited. I'm sure he fixed something to drink. He knew that I was ready to submit. The whole thing was like — I just knew that I gave him a hand job. I'm like a robot, and that is what I became, and that is what I did for him.
Jena says Cosby gave her $700 before she left. She tried to assure herself that she was an adult making her own decisions, yet didn't actually believe it. In the years following, Jena sought counseling, but her mother says that no one really believed her. Judy says, " It didn't begin to resolve what happened to her when you can't find a therapist that accepts what you're saying as truth... Finally she will be believed ... None of these women are coming after money. They're coming after validation."
That last part is so true. While people claim all of this is for attention and money, Jena's mom's comment about validation and wanting to be heard is extremely important. It's also sad that several of the women who have spoken out initially genuinely believed Cosby would help them with their careers. If all of the accusations are true, it shows a disturbing pattern of preying on vulnerable young women.
Reflecting on the experience, Jena told People:
I really try very hard to forgive. That's important for me. I don't feel I was complicit by being an attractive young person at that time. What I feel complicit in is all of the years, I couldn't stop him from doing it to another by telling them my story. But then I realized no one would believe me.
Martin Singer, Cosby's attorney, told People, "It's absurd to publish this unsubstantiated story from this anonymous person." Speaking of all of the recent allegations, Singer said in a statement:
It is completely illogical that so many people would have said nothing, done nothing and made no reports to law enforcement or asserted civil claims if they thought they had been assaulted over a span of so many years.
This is in addition to previous statements Singer has made. He released a statement on Nov. 20 in regards to the claims from multiple women and in particular mentioned a woman named Linda Joy Traitz, and on Nov. 16 released the following:
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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