For children who grew up watching Cliff Huxtable and his perfect family, Bill Cosby was the TV father everyone wanted. But for Barbara Bowman, he is her rapist. The artist and former model and actress spoke out against the popular ‘80s sitcom star, 77, decades after the alleged rape occurred in a shocking new op-ed in The Washington Post.
Titled, “Bill Cosby raped me. Why did it take 30 years for people to believe my story?” Bowman’s piece chronicled her painful experiences with the comic legend, whom she claims won her trust in 1985 at the age of 17 and “brainwashed me into viewing him as a father figure, and then assaulted me multiple times.”
Now a married mother of two living in Scottsdale, Ariz., Bowman said that as a young, impressionable aspiring actress, she tried to convince herself that she had imagined the attacks and when that didn’t work she tried to rationalize them.
The abuse came to a head on a trip to Atlantic City, when she was staying in a separate bedroom in Cosby’s hotel suite.
“He pinned me down in his own bed while I screamed for help,” she recalled. “I’ll never forget the clinking of his belt buckle as he struggled to pull his pants off. I furiously tried to wrestle from his grasp until he eventually gave up, angrily called me 'a baby' and sent me home to Denver.”
In the years that followed, Bowman was warned that if she ever spoke a word of the incident, her career would be over. Lawyers accused her of making the story up and even her friends dismissed her claims.
It wasn’t until another woman named Andrea Constand filed a lawsuit against Cosby in 2004 that Bowman finally spoke out. She was set to testify in court against Cosby when the suit was settled before trial for an undisclosed amount of money. Despite not getting to take the stand, Bowman used this breakthrough to start getting her story out, but it barely got any pickup.
It wasn’t until comedian Hannibal Buress started calling the sitcom star a rapist in a viral standup routine this past October that people began to listen — a point that has angered Bowman greatly. When Cosby asked his followers to meme him, he got a rude awakening from those who did so by calling out his sexual misconduct.
“While I am grateful for the new attention to Cosby’s crimes, I must ask my own questions: Why wasn’t I believed? Why didn’t I get the same reaction of shock and revulsion when I originally reported it? Why was I, a victim of sexual assault, further wronged by victim blaming when I came forward? The women victimized by Bill Cosby have been talking about his crimes for more than a decade. Why didn’t our stories go viral?” Bowman wrote in her essay.
Now the Arizona resident has channeled her frustrations into helping other women in her position. She has become a volunteer ambassador for PAVE (Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment), focusing on vulnerable girls who are trying to break into the entertainment industry.
She wants to make it clear that her intentions have nothing to do with compensation. In fact, there’s no way for her to financially benefit from telling her story.
“I have never received any money from Bill Cosby and have not asked for it,” she said. “I have nothing to gain by continuing to speak out. He can no longer be charged for his crimes against me because the statute of limitations is long past. That is also wrong. There should be no time limits on reporting these crimes, and one of my goals is to call for legislation to that end. Famous and wealthy perpetrators use their power to shame and silence their victims. It often takes years for young women to overcome those feeling and gain the confidence to come forward (by which point physical evidence is long gone).”
Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!