Beverly Johnson Claims Bill Cosby Drugged Her, Yanked Her Down Stairs

Beverly Johnson
'70s and '80s supermodel and actress Beverly Johnson claims that Bill Cosby drugged her in the mid-'80s, "yanked" her down a staircase -- read her story Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Legendary supermodel Beverly Johnson claims in a new shocking Vanity Fair essay that she was once drugged by Bill Cosby in the mid-'80s. The actress, who was in a heated custody battle with ex Danny Sims at the time, was called in to audition for The Cosby Show. She met the famed cast and Cosby, and said that the once-beloved comedian seemed "genuinely" interested in helping her get to "the next level."

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After the meeting, Johnson, now 62, brought along her daughter Anansa for her first audition at Cosby's home in New York. After hitting it off, the actor suggested she come back to read again. When she did, she was offered a cappuccino and was told to act drunk for the part. Johnson thought the request was odd, especially because she was auditioning to play a pregnant woman.

"I told him I didn't drink coffee that late in the afternoon because it made getting to sleep at night more difficult. He wouldn't let it go," Johnson writes in VF. "He insisted that his espresso machine was the best model on the market and promised I'd never tasted a cappuccino quite like this one."

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Johnson says she felt silly arguing with Cosby, so she took a few sips. Afterward, she quickly realized she had been drugged.

"Now let me explain this: I was a top model during the '70s, a period when drugs flowed at parties and photo shoots like bottled water at a health spa. I'd had my fun and experimented with my fair share of mood enhancers. I knew by the second sip of the drink Cosby had given me that I'd been drugged—and drugged good," she claims. After leaning into Cosby for support, she asked him: "You are a motherf—er aren't you?"

According to Johnson, Cosby got "pissed" when she wouldn't stop acting out. "I recall his seething anger at my tirade and then him grabbing me by my left arm hard and yanking all 110 pounds of me down a bunch of stairs as my high heels clicked and clacked on every step," she alleges in VF. "I feared my neck was going to break with the force he was using to pull me down those stairs." He then shoved her in a taxi to go home. Read more of Johnson's allegations against Cosby

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A few days later, Johnson decided to confront Cosby on the private line he gave her. His wife Camille picked up instead, and said it was late and to call back another time. Johnson says she never did.

"At a certain moment it became clear that I would be fighting a losing battle with a powerful man so callous he not only drugged me, but he also gave me the number to the bedroom he shared with his wife," Johnson writes. "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 ongoing court fees."

After decades of silence, Johnson says she's only now telling her story after hearing other women's allegations, including Barbara Bowman and her friend, fellow supermodel Janice Dickinson. "Over the years I've met other women who also claim to have been violated by Cosby. Many are still afraid to speak up," she says. "I couldn't sit back and watch the other women be vilified and shamed for something I knew was true."

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Johnson was particularly afraid to speak up because of the "current attack on African American men" in the country, which includes the controversial deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner. But, now, Johnson(the first black woman to land the cover of Vogue in 1974) acknowledges that Cosby is in his own category.

"He brought this on himself when he decided he had the right to have his way with who knows how many women over the last four decades," Johnson concludes. "If anything, Cosby is distinguished from the majority of black men in this country because he could depend on the powers that be for support and protection."

So far, more than 20 women have come forward claiming Cosby, 77, of sexual assault. Amid the scandal, he most recently thanked Whoopi Goldberg and Jill Scott for their support via Twitter on Dec. 3.

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