When comedian Hannibal Buress delivered his recent merciless tongue-lashing at Bill Cosby, calling him a serial ‘rapist’, there was one woman who was paying particularly close attention. When Barbara Bowman was a teenager she was emotionally and sexually abused by the TV star and in an exclusive interview with MailOnline she describes in chilling detail how Cosby manipulated her into believing he was a father figure and took advantage of her youth, vulnerability and yes, even ambition, to have his way with her over and over again.
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‘I was drugged and raped by that man,’ she tells MailOnline. ‘He is a monster. He came at me like a monster. My hope is that others who have experienced sexual abuse will not be intimidated into silence by the famous, rich and powerful. If I can help one victim, then I’ve done my job.’
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Survivor: Barbara Bowman thought Bill Cosby was a god, and the opportunity to have him mentor her a dream come true. Little did she know that he was the devil in disguise
Rising star: Raised in Denver from age nine by her mother, Barbara soon began studying acting and modeling. By 13, she became a client of Denver’s top agency at the time
Daddy dearest: Cosby called the shots with Barbara. He convinced her that he was a father figure
Raised in Denver from age nine by her mother, Barbara soon began studying acting and modeling. By 13, she became a client of J.F. Images, Denver’s top agency at the time.
What began as a dream in 1985 with a private ‘audition’ for Cosby ended two years later in screams for help while being pinned down to the comic’s hotel bed.
Barbara, now 47, says it’s time to end her code of silence — a silence that at least 13 other victims have followed — spanning three decades.
‘I’m finally revealing all of my full story in hopes that others will learn to read the tell-tale signs of abuse and not wait as long as I did. No one believed me for years. They said Bill would never do that. That it was preposterous. But I’m putting my name out there and standing behind these words, just like Burress. No more code of silence.’
Now, 25 years after the multiple incidents of drugging, sexual assault, and even rape at the hands of the now 77-year-old Cosby, Barbara said: ‘I’ve been silent too long. It’s time to raise a fuss. I’m a real person that this happened to. And it’s taken decades to get over what he did to me.
‘I thank Hannibal Burress for speaking out over and over again, despite the threats from the Industry that it could ruin his career. He is standing up for me and the other women who are too afraid to speak out.
Angry Birds star Hannibal Buress: Bill Cosby is a rapist
Camera shy: This is only image Barbara has of Cosby. She explains that she was not allowed to take pictures of or with Cosby in the time she knew him
Pioneer: The Cosby Show was hailed as a ground-breaking show for its depiction of a normal middle class African American family, the Huxtables Starring along with Cosby, left to right, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Tempestt Bledsoe, Phylicia Rashad as wife Clair and Lisa Bonet
‘And the timing couldn’t be better. It sickens me to think he’ll be on TV again, playing a father, no less.’
Barbara’s fear is that her perpetrator will actually hit the NBC airwaves again, as soon as next summer in a new sitcom, playing a patriarchal father figure, just like he played the quintessential family man Dr Cliff Huxtable on The Bill Cosby Show in the 1980s.
‘Maybe he should also teach his fictitious TV family how to escape the talons of sexual predators. Bill used to tell me that he was my father figure and that I needed to trust him as a father, 100 percent. Then he’d drug me and attack me. I was to afraid to talk back.
‘He told me over and over again, “Trust me like I was your father.” He zeroed in on that like a laser beam.’
While other victims were allegedly given hush money to prevent them from going public with their accusations, and another settled after filing a court case against Cosby, Barbara is free to speak out.
‘I never took shut up money. My motivation to speak now is to expose Bill Cosby as the animal that he is. He went after me in that hotel room like an animal with such sexual prowess and force that he couldn’t control himself. And at 19-years-old, I knew it would be the last time he would ever get the chance to hurt me this way again.’
It all began in 1985. The fresh-faced 17-year-old was invited to meet The Coz, as he was known in comedy circles, behind the closed doors of an empty conference room in the back of the Turn of the Century Nightclub in Denver, Colorado.
Animal: ‘I was drugged and raped by that man,’ Barbara told MailOnline. ‘He is a monster. He came at me like a monster. My hope is that others who have experienced sexual abuse will not be intimidated into silence by the famous, rich and powerful. If I can help one victim, then I’ve done my job’
Up in smoke: Cosby hangs out with his arm around his wife, Camille Hanks, at a Four Tops concert at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in LA. He often left her at home when he went carousing
‘I was studying acting when my agent told me Mr Cosby was scouting for young talent and that I’d have a shot to be groomed by him personally. I was eager to please. This could be my big break.
‘The first thing Mr. Cosby said when he met me in the conference room was, “I want you to go in the bathroom and wet your hair…then sit in this chair, shut your eyes and do an improvisation exercise with me.”
‘He wanted me to act completely drunk, wasted, while he stood behind me and stroked my neck and upper chest. He didn’t touch me beyond that, on that day, but that’s where it certainly started.
‘Even though it felt off to do the exercise, I gave it my all. I’d learned from years of acting classes that I had to take direction. After all, I was in the presence of the most powerful man in America at that time. Dr Huxtable chose me!’
Barbara admits to being scared while with Cosby but she also had strong desires to ‘make my way up the ladder. Whenever he’d be in Denver for work, he’d make it a point to meet me, give me acting lessons, and eventually this lead to him flying me all over the country to join him.
‘He flew me to Lake Tahoe to attend the John Denver Celebrity Ski Classic. He arranged for me to see Broadway shows in New York. He brought me to Hilton Head, South Carolina, to watch him perform and attend a star-studded golf tournament. He said it was all part of his assessment to see if I was worth mentoring and grooming. He wanted to see how I handled myself around celebrities.’
But Cosby’s promises to make Barbara a star, or even audition for ‘The Cosby Show,’ as she’d hoped, never came to fruition.
He did fly the ingenue first class.
‘I got the royal treatment. I’d fly to wherever he was. I was met at the baggage claim curb by his right-hand man. Then, I’d be handed off to Bill’s bodyguard, who would take care of me until Bill was ready to see me. I was always met by one of his men. I was never alone.
Ulterior motive: Barbara says that Cosby befriended her mother and grandparents, and even flew them to Broadway shows, complete with limousines, so that he could get away with his sexual violations
‘Soon, the clandestine meetings became routine. Barbara would arrive at Bill’s hotel, check into her own room, see Cosby perform on stage, and then wait for the star in his green room.
‘He started working on my head right away. He knew I had no father figure in my life. He knew that. yes, I was an independent girl, but he knew I was vulnerable and alone inside. He coerced and manipulated me into trusting him. He insisted I give into him 100 percent.’
Barbara said that because Cosby befriended her mother and grandparents, and even flew mom and daughter to Broadway shows, complete with limo treatment and all so that he could get away with his sexual violations.
‘He was Dr Huxtable. Everybody loved him,’ Barbara’s mother Pat Hubbard told MailOnline.
‘No one was looking over my shoulder. Or his,’ Barbara added. ‘He told me over and over again, “Trust me like I was your father.”
‘He zeroed in on that like a laser beam.’My mother totally trusted him, too. She would have never let me into dangerous hands. She sent me off with her blessings. She wanted me to have these opportunities.’
Now, in retrospect, Barbara believes this was all part of Cosby’s plan — to ‘gain my mother’s trust so that she wouldn’t butt in and get in the way.’By the time I was drugged and raped by him in New York, he’d already broken me down, brainwashed me and made me feel like there was something wrong with me if I resisted his sexual advances.
‘Bill would say that he needed to guide me, and that I must trust him. When he’d fill me in on my next itinerary to meet him, he would say, “You’re not going to fight me this time, are you?” He’d remind me that if I was going to be a successful actress, I’d have to break down my barriers and “learn to be vulnerable.”
‘I knew something was wrong, that this was a twisted situation, but if I resisted, I was failing him and failing my good fortune. He was a pot of gold and I needed to take good care of it.’
Sick: ‘He turned out all the lights. It was completely pitch black. He laid me down on the couch and started caressing and touching me all over,’ she relates. When it was over she ran out of the room and threw up
Barbara said there were times she’d push him away, but then she’d give in. It was Reno, Nevada. 1986. Cosby’s hotel suite was darkened.
‘He turned out all the lights. It was completely pitch black. He laid me down on the couch and started caressing and touching me all over. Then he put my hand on his penis, covering it with his hand. He had me masturbate him. I couldn’t see what was going on. When it was over, I ran out of the room and threw up.
‘It was so invasive and frightening and humiliating. There was no way I could tell my mother. I couldn’t even admit it to myself. I tried to convince myself that I’d imagined it. That it was a one-time thing, that it wouldn’t happen again. And I was paralyzed with fear.
It did happen again. Barbara calls it ‘the apartment incident.’
‘He invited me to his New York brownstone for dinner. Staff was there. We ate in the kitchen. I had one glass of red wine with dinner. My next recollection is me, coming to, slumped over the toilet bowl, throwing up. I was wearing a man’s white t-shirt and my panties.
‘The t-shirt was not mine. Bill was standing over me, holding my hair out of my face as I threw up. I had no idea how I’d gotten there. I’d had one glass of wine with dinner. He was trying to soothe me with his words, “It will be okay. It’s okay.”
‘By the time I came to, the staff was gone. No one in the house but us. And as the fogginess lifted, he escorted me to the couch where I recovered. I then got dressed and he called me a cab.
‘I was mystified. It was a sick pit in my stomach, knowing that I was out of control over the last undetermined amount of time. And that I was undressed, while he was in a white robe, and how had I gotten there?
Barbara is certain she was drugged by Cosby. And she believes raped by him too.
‘I know for sure he forced himself multiple times upon me and since he needed to create an environment in which I could not fight him, I can’t in all honesty say that I recall penetration because at that time I was in a vacant state of mind, as I was often drugged and brainwashed.
‘Whatever drug he gave me, didn’t allow me to think clearly when it was over and done with. It didn’t register that I should be panicking. It was like amnesia almost. It was like what a lobotomy would do to you. I couldn’t even think clearly when I was awake. I was vacant.’
Why Barbara didn’t even tell her mother, her closest confidant, of the abuse?
Evicted: After being thrown out of her home when Bill ended it, Barbara sued the landlord and won back her personal belongings, plus $830.77 in damages
‘I was ashamed and scared, first of all. The active part of my brain kept saying to me, ‘I’m on top of the world. I was special, with something unique that other aspiring actresses didn’t have. I had a false sense of superiority. I felt that I was the chosen one. No cattle calls or paying dues or groveling for jobs. I had the biggest connection ever.
‘I wasn’t completely aware of the dissection of my spirit and what was really happening. I had a sense of obligation to give Bill 100 percent.
‘My brain was telling me not to believe it, like I was imagining it not to be true, so much so that I rationalized it away. Pushed it away. If I ignored it, it didn’t exist. It was a small price to pay. I thought this was all part of the deal.’
Every time Barbara boarded a plane, at Cosby’s request, she would ‘pray and pray’ on the way to meeting him that this time it wouldn’t happen again.
‘After all, here I was, picked out of millions of girls, groomed to be a superstar, by a superstar, one of the most important, trustworthy, influential figures in America at that time.’
In fact, Cosby so believed in Barbara’s talents, that he moved her into a small apartment in Manhattan to take acting classes at HB Studios in the West Village.
‘Bill was my benefactor for sure. Though the agreement was that once I started booking jobs, I’d repay that loan.’
Meanwhile, the sexual and emotional abuse continued.
‘I told myself that it wasn’t going to happen anymore. Yet it did.’
Cosby started to sense that Barbara was pulling away. That the tight hold he had on her ‘was unraveling’, she said.
Success: In spite of Cosby, the years following their ‘relationship’ marked success for Barbara. She starred in more than 30 national TV commercials, including ones for McDonald’s, Miller Lite and Holiday Inn
Hot to trot: : Cosby was wild about the Bunnies at the Playboy Mansion. He and Hefner were best buds
‘And, it was getting dangerous for him. He started to separate himself from me, as well. I’d been abruptly moved from the New York City apartment he set me up in, to a distant house in Roslyn, New York, 45 minutes away by train.’
The last straw occurred in Atlantic City, where Cosby was performing. He flew in Barbara to be with him. By this point, the scenario was obvious.
‘A car picked me up at the airport. I went to my penthouse hotel room. But my luggage didn’t arrive. I called the concierge to inquire where my bag was, before I went to bed.’
Oddly, Barbara awoke that next morning to discover her luggage had been placed inside her room, part of Cosby suite.
‘Who delivered the bag? Certainly, the concierge wouldn’t have entered my room unannounced. Once again I wondered what happened after I’d fallen asleep.Then, Bill summoned me into his room. There, he berated me, “What the hell is the matter with you! How dare you have no discretion! You know you’re supposed to be discreet. You’ve embarrassed me. You were drunk.”
‘He freaked out that I disclosed to the concierge the fact that a 19-year-old girl was calling from his penthouse. He couldn’t handle it. He throws me down on his bed and jumps on top of me. He used his forearm to pin me down by the neck.
‘He was trying to unbuckle his belt and take down his pants. I’ll never forget the sound of the clinking of his belt buckle. He couldn’t get his belt off. I’m screaming for help and trying to wrestle out of his grip while he’s trying to get his belt off and he’s trying to pull my pants down at the same time. I couldn’t get out from under him.
Connection: ‘I was ashamed and scared, first of all,’ says Barbara about her relationship with Cosby. The active part of my brain kept saying to me, ‘I’m on top of the world. I was special, with something unique that other aspiring actresses didn’t have. I had a false sense of superiority. I felt that I was the chosen one. No cattle calls or paying dues or groveling for jobs.’
Trapped: An excerpt from the diary of Barbara Bowman that she wrote as a teenager on July 14, 1990
‘I didn’t stop screaming. He realizes I’m not stopping. He finally gets to a point of frustration and decides it’s too much trouble and he doesn’t want to risk it. He gets off me and calls me a “baby.” That’s when he throws me out.
‘Within days, Barbara was also thrown out of the Roslyn house, subsidized by Bill and her agent. She was forced to get on a plane home to Denver that day, without even getting a chance to get her personal belongings. The landlord had locked her out.
‘I’d already paid rent. I knew this was no coincidence. Earlier that day, the manager at the grocery store I was working at, told me I had an urgent phone call. It was Bill. He reemed me out and basically told me I was finished. I hung up my apron and walked out the door. I was told I was going home to Denver. Immediately.’
Barbara later sued the landlord and won back her personal belongings, plus $830.77 in damages. But things got much worse when Barbara returned to her mother’s Denver home. Her high-powered agent and friend of Cosby’s ordered her to take a drug test and a pregnancy test. Both lab results were negative.
‘It was so weird. It didn’t make any sense. I wasn’t having sex or doing drugs at all. I couldn’t figure out why she made me take these tests. What made her believe I needed to take them? Or that I’d failed to hold up my end of the bargain? I was working hard at my classes in New York.’
While ‘re-grouping’ at her mother’s home, Barbara saved enough money to go back to New York to pursue her career on her own terms.
A girlfriend convinced Barbara to meet with a lawyer in 1987 to consult about what Cosby had done to her.. ‘He laughed me out of the office. He said I was delusional, ridiculous, making these stories up
‘I cashed in my savings bonds, sold my car, and my mother gave me some money.’
The following years marked success for Barbara. She starred in more than 30 national TV commercials, including ones for McDonalds, Miller Light and Holiday Inn.
She also had guest spots on Saturday Night Live, One Life to Live, and All My Children.
She eventually moved to Los Angeles and continued to excel in film and TV.
‘But I never got the career that I was meant to have.’
Eventually a girlfriend convinced her to meet with a lawyer in 1987.
‘He laughed me out of the office. He said I was delusional, ridiculous, making these stories up. No one believed me. I called Gloria Allred. No one would listen. They thought I was making up stuff to get money. I never asked for or was given a penny. That’s not the point. But it shut me up. I didn’t need one more authority figure to tell me I was full of s***.’
‘To be totally honest, I could barely deal with the truth myself. I was holding back and embarrassed about the hand job. I was still afraid I was going to be condemned. I went into the lawyer’s office confident he would help me. I walked out with my tail between my legs, just like when Bill threw me out of that hotel room for the last time. I was smacked down.’
In 2004, when another rape victim Andrea Constand went public with her plight by filing a lawsuit against Cosby, Barbara said she made it her ‘mission’ to support her.
‘I believed her because the details of her assaults were eerily similar to mine. I knew she was telling the truth and needed someone to support her because no one else was.’
Barbara was one of 13 victims called upon to take the witness stand in Constand’s civil lawsuit. Constand settled out of court for an undisclosed sum in 2006.
‘But much to my shock, while I was en-route to Philadelphia for a local news appearance, Bill’s lawyers learned I was going to speak publicly about my sexual assaults. By the time I landed, I was told Constand had settled out of court. The code of silence continued.
Rise and fall: Barbara is now a successful abstract expressionist artist in Scottsdale, Arizona and a happily married mother of two. Cosby’s once stellar reputation has long been tarnished by his sexual exploits
‘Here it was. All of the women came out of the woodwork. I was eager to sit on the witness stand. Andrea’s story of being drugged and sexually assaulted was the same as mine, and she was being dragged through the mud.
‘I was so deflated. They came to a settlement while I was on the plane. I got the bad news when I landed. Get the broom. Under the rug it goes’
In the period following the 2006 settlement, Cosby went on a college lecture tour and began a campaign, speaking to young black youth to ‘pull up their pants’ and stop whining about their plight.
‘He was diverting attention from his reprehensible behavior by reinventing himself as an advocate for youth empowerment. Once again, our story took a back seat.
‘Step one is exposing Bill Cosby as the monster he is. Step two is getting support from public figures, like Burress, who had the courage to speak out. Hollywood’s not deaf. Buress is surely not the only one to know about this. But no one is talking. There’s too much to lose. Yet, that leaves us victims feeling like we are on a desert island fending for ourselves, and that’s a lonely place to be.’
Though Barbara is now a successful abstract expressionist artist in Scottsdale, Arizona and a happily married mother of two, she admits to still being haunted by what Cosby did to her.’Those experiences live inside me. They take up space in my brain and altered the course of my emotional development and altered the course of my career.
‘Being assaulted like that made a huge impact on my ability to trust my own instincts, as well as others’ actions. It was a block I’ve been working to undo. And a block that Bill Cosby is solely responsible for creating.’
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