Bill Cosby, the 77-year-old comedian and accused rapist, performed the final show of his Far From Finished tour last night in Atlanta, Georgia, in front of a reported 1,600 paid attendees. Outside, protesters, including Lily Bernard and Kaya Thompson, along with celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, stood holding signs, and chanting, “Shame!” as Cosby fans and supporters entered the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, according to CNN. This just a day after two new Cosby sexual assault accusers came forward in Bernard, a former “Cosby Show” guest actress, and Sammie Mays. The number of women who have accused Cosby of rape or sexual assault now tops 40.
During the performance, Cosby joked away occasional heckles from those inside the arena, such as one woman who shouted “It beats me how you treat…the way you treat women!” roughly 40 minutes into the show, and was one of at least three members of the audience to make such an outburst. The majority of the audience, comprised largely of Cosby supporters, booed and jeered the audience members who were then escorted from the theater.
Bernard, who Joshua Alton of the A.V. Club reports, alleges that Cosby drugged and raped her while supposedly coaching her in her role as Mrs. Minnifield, a demanding and neurotic patient of Cosby’s character Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable. Bernard starred in the episode entitled, “Bring Me The Lip Gloss Of Deirdre Arpelle,” which aired during the show’s eighth and final season. According to Bernard, Cosby, upon seeing the actress years later, allegedly told her, “As far as I’m concerned, Bernard, you’re dead. Do you hear me? You’re dead, Bernard. You don’t exist.”
Bernard spoke of how important it was to her to speak out and to protest outside of Cosby’s performance.
“If I were to remain silent to the public, I would be enabling Bill Cosby’s criminal lifestyle. I would be enabling his duping of his adoring fans. I would be enabling the re-victimization of the courageous women who have stepped forward.”
Mays’ story rings all too familiar to the many similar accusations made against Cosby. In Mays’ account, Cosby met Mays in the mid-80s while working as a writer covering the National Association of Television Program Executives in New Orleans. Mays alleges that Cosby invited her to his hotel room under the auspices of conducting an interview, mixed her a drink with his back turned to her, and her next recollection being regaining consciousness in Cosby’s suite with her clothing and undergarments undone.
Judy Thompson, the mother of Kaya Thompson, made a bold statement to CNN that underscores an issue the Cosby allegations have brought to the forefront of our social consciousness, which is the increased attention to perceived rape culture throughout the country.
“We’re here primarily because Bill Cosby is a serial predator. However, our tolerance of rape culture in this country is a bigger story.”