Supermodel Beverly Johnson has joined the growing list of women who claim to have been drugged and assaulted by Bill Cosby. In the December 11 Vanity Fair, Johnson describes how she and her daughter visited the Cosby Show set in the 1980s and her subsequent meeting alone with the comedian in the house he shared with his wife Camille.
Johnson concisely tells how Cosby urged her to drink fresh coffee. Immediately after quaffing the brew against her express preference – it was late and she wanted to get a good night’s sleep – the room began to spin and she felt dizzy. Cosby began to grope her but she disengaged and tried to flee. He then wrenched Johnson’s arm while throwing her down the stairs. She escaped.
With commendable candor, Johnson explains why she didn’t go to the police or media:
How could I fight someone that boldly arrogant and out of touch? In the end, just like the other women, I had too much to lose to go after Bill Cosby. I had a career that would no doubt take a huge hit if I went public with my story and I certainly couldn’t afford that after my costly divorce and on going court fees.
Johnson also states plausibly: “I thought [Cosby’s assault] was something that only happened to me, and that I was somehow responsible.” Now however, Johnson writes, “the last four weeks have changed everything, as so many women have shared similar stories, of which the press have belatedly taken heed.”
Johnson explains her recent decision to publicize Cosby’s assault by reference to her work with sexually abused children. “I watch in awe of their bravery as they work to recover and feel better. How could I be any less brave?”
I admire Johnson’s honest accounting of her conflicted feelings in the aftermath of Cosby’s assault on her. I believe her when she says that she thought she was Cosby’s only victim and do believe it was truly brave of Beverly Johnson to fight Cosby after he had drugged her and was trying to rape her.
Nevertheless, I reject her self-aggrandizing final sentence. It was not brave of Johnson to write about what Cosby did to her nearly three decades after the fact and after many other women have already come forward.
Willingly facing tough questions from skeptical police would have been brave. Risking her career by challenging a rich and powerful man would have been brave. Doing whatever she could to protect potential future victims from a sexual predator would have been brave. Sadly, Beverly Johnson demonstrated less admirable traits after she escaped Cosby’s clutches.