When the world started to pay attention several months ago to the longtime rape and sexual assault allegations laid against Bill Cosby, at least 45 women came forward publicly to accuse the 78-year-old entertainer of sexual assault. Well, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. On Sunday evening, New York released a powerful cover photo and feature story on 35 alleged victims who were willing to step forward together and publicly accuse Cosby of sexual misconduct. The resulting cover image marks the first time the faces and accounts of so many Cosby's accusers have been brought together in a single challenge the comedian's public image. But the big question is does Bill Cosby face new allegations in the shocking interviews?
The women on the front cover of New York's latest issue range in age from 20 to 80 years old. They are supermodels, journalists, actresses, and waitresses. They generally appear to have very little in common other than disturbingly allegations about Cosby. In personal essays for the magazine, the women told what's become a sadly familiar story to the public: They were given pills or wine that tasted a little odd, then lost control of their faculties.
The New York interviews, while detailed, offer little new information on the case. The creepy particulars outlined by 35 of the more than 40 women who have publicly accused Cosby would sound familiar to anyone who's been following the allegations. The article does, however, mark the first time the public will see the victims' stories in the same narrative space. The resulting effect is the stories work together to make a massive case against Cosby, though the entertainer has never faced criminal charges from the alleged incidents.
Though the authors said the women were interviewed separately for the project, in account after account, the women recounted memories of alleged nights alone with Cosby that reportedly ended with fuzzy images of being sick, dragged around the star's various hotel rooms and apartments, forced to give Cosby oral sex, and afraid that no one would believe them.
In the essay that accompanies the victims' stories, journalists Noreen Malone and Amanda Demme explained the victims were encouraged by examples of younger women speaking out about rape using social media and outspoken activism. Because the victims were already feeling empowered to confront Cosby, the project came together in short order, according to Malone and Demme.
This project began six months ago, when we started contacting the then-30 women who had publicly claimed Cosby assaulted them, and it snowballed in the same way that the initial accusations did: First two women signed on, then others heard about it and joined in, and so on. Just a few days before the story was published, we photographed the final two women, bringing our total to 35.
The New York piece comes on the heels of more damning evidence that already surfaced this week in the mounting public case against Bill Cosby. In court documents published earlier this week, Cosby admitted to acquiring prescription Quaaludes and used them to drug young women and have sex with them. Earlier this week, The New York Times published a deposition from a 2005 civil case that told the world — in Cosby's own words, no less — the once-revered television icon had been obtaining sedatives with the intent to give them to women before sex.
While the interviews offer no new Cosby allegations, they do piece together a timeline of how America's attitudes toward rape victims has changed and why — even with so many women telling the same story — it's taken so long for Cosby's accusers to be believed.