Rape allegations haunt Bill Cosby in the digital age

Todd Leopold and Ben Brumfield | 11/17/2014, 11 a.m.
Nasty allegations have been haunting one of America's most iconic comedians, a man with a reputation for moral wholesomeness. For ...
Bill Cosby as Cliff Huxtable on the "Cosby Show" (Photo courtesy/NBC)

— Nasty allegations have been haunting one of America's most iconic comedians, a man with a reputation for moral wholesomeness. For nine years, Bill Cosby has been accused of sexual assault by women who say they were the victims.

Cosby has repeatedly said that the allegations are untrue. And he has never been prosecuted.

But since 2005, a handful of women have made the claim. This year, those accusations resurfaced, and on Monday, a seemingly harmless post to Cosby's confirmed Twitter account turned them into a social media storm.

In its wake, one of his accusers, Barbara Bowman, turned to the public once more with an article in the Washington Post. She also spoke to CNN's Don Lemon.

Bowman claims she was drugged then raped, though she said she never saw drugs.

"I woke up out of a very confused state not in my clothes." She said she knew her body had been touched without her permission. This occurred several times in the course of their contact, she said.

She said to CNN that Cosby told her she had been drunk.

Bowman was 17 and an aspiring actress when she met Cosby in 1985. She considered him to be her mentor.

She spent time in his home, which included dinners with the star.

She said the abuse began after she turned 18.

Despite what she said was happening to her, she kept coming back. And Cosby and her agent financed her apartment in addition to supporting her acting ambitions, she said.

She was afraid to talk to her agent about her concerns, and she felt Cosby's influence over her was too powerful.

"I was terrified of him," she said.

"As a teenager, I tried to convince myself I had imagined it. I even tried to rationalize it: Bill Cosby was going to make me a star and this was part of the deal," she wrote in her Washington Post article.

In a Friday morning interview on CNN's "New Day," Bowman said she went to a lawyer in 1989 to discuss legal action against Cosby but "he laughed me right out of the office."

After that, Bowman said, she "just gave up" and moved on with her life. When another woman took legal action against Cosby years later, Bowman decided to lend her support, she said.

"I believe her because it happened to me," she said Friday.

CNN reached out to Cosby's representative for comment on this article but has not yet heard back.

When asked about the allegations Saturday during an interview on NPR, Cosby did not respond -- instead shaking his head "no," according to the interviewer, Scott Simon.

"There are people who love you who might like to hear from you about this. I want to give you the chance," Simon said, to silence from Cosby. "All right."

The Tweet

On Monday, the comedian -- or whomever was in charge of his social media -- put out a challenge with a jovial picture of Cosby in a cap: "Go ahead. Meme me! #cosbymeme."