The latest woman to come forward with allegations of sexual assault against Bill Cosby, former actress, publicist and journalist Joan Tarshis, went on “CNN Tonight” Monday evening where she spoke with Don Lemon about two alleged encounters with the comedy legend.
The television interview came just one day after Tarshis spoke with TheWrap regarding the alleged incidents, why she chose to come forward now, and what she hopes to accomplish by doing so.
Tarshis first detailed the alleged rapes, which she says occurred in 1969 when she was 19-years old, in an essay posted to the website Hollywood Elsewhere.
She told TheWrap she was coming forward now in part because she wanted “to help the public understand that he’s not Mr. Clean,” and also “because of the other women who were courageous enough before me to venture out and say what was going on.”
Tarshis is the latest of several women to have come forward with allegations of sexual assault against Cosby, coming in the wake of alleged victim Barbara Bowman’s Washington Post essay asking why it took a viral video from comedian Hannibal Buress about this issue for it to go viral.
While Tarshis described the alleged assaults in her initial essay, she went into more graphic detail with Lemon. “He made me a drink … and very shortly after that, I passed out. I woke up, or came to very groggily with him removing my underwear.”
She again reiterated her claim that she tried to stop him by lying about having a disease. “I said, if you have sex with me your wife is gonna know it because you probably will infect her,” Tarshis said. “I thought I was very clever in saying that, but he was more clever and instead he made me have oral sex with him, which really was just horrible. To me it’s much, much worse than had he just raped me the normal way.”
Tarshis has said she has no direct memories of the second alleged rape, which she says took place after Cosby invited her to see a show. She claims she was once again drugged by Cosby, writing in her initial essay, “I remember feeling very, very stoned and asking his chauffeur to take me back to the car. I was having trouble standing up. The next thing I remember was waking up in his bed back at the Sherry, naked.
“Every single person who he has allegedly raped has had the same exact pattern,” she told TheWrap Sunday night. “A business connection and then being drugged and then being accosted while they were unconscious. And it’s just so bizarre that that’s his M.O. And everybody was the same age.”
Tarshis told Lemon that she didn’t go to the police because, “Who’s going to believe me? Bill Cosby, the all-American dad, the all-American husband. Mr. Jell-O that everybody loves. Who would believe me? They’d probably think I was out to get something.”
She also said she was struggling with her own emotional state. “You know intellectually that it’s not your fault, but your emotions have no intelligence and your intelligence has no emotions,” she said. “Sometimes they don’t connect with each other. My emotions won at this point. I felt a lot of shame. I felt a lot of guilt.”
She talked about that internal struggled with TheWrap on Sunday. “I know intellectually that’s incorrect, but that’s still a feeling that I have,” she said. “You hear about all the women who are victims — who’ve been accosted and have been raped — feel like it’s their fault and they don’t tell people about it. And it’s just kind of surprising to me that I too feel that way.”
Lemon quoted a line that Tarshis had said to Philadelphia Magazine: “I would also like to be able to say ‘Bill Cosby is a rapist’ and have America believe it.”
Tarshis stood by those words, and clarified them. “He’s a serial rapist, actually,” she told Lemon. “I mean, when you rape at least 16 women, that’s serial. That’s a serial rapist, in my opinion.”
When speaking with TheWrap, Tarshis had advice for any women who might find themselves in a similar position with an individual of some influence and power. “Trust your gut,” she said. And if something does happen, she advised them to remember, “It wasn’t your fault. You’re not to blame. They are.”
Cosby, who has two projects moving forward with Netflix and NBC, denied the previous allegations and indicated he would not comment on them further. He refused to answer a direct question about the allegations during an NPR interview on Saturday. Cosby’s scheduled appearance on CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman” this Wednesday has been cancelled, though no reason has been given.