Bill Cosby allegedly took teenage artist Barbara Bowman under his wing in the late 1980s, then repeatedly abused her both emotionally and physically.
Bowman was one of 13 woman involved in a civil suit against Cosby alleging that he drugged and sexually assaulted them. The case was settled in 2006, but Bowman joined after the statute of limitations had run out and only served as a witness.
Now she is speaking out for the first time, telling Newsweek about how Cosby singled her out when she was just 17. Bowman was an actress from Denver, and her agent helped put her in tough with Bill Cosby, who she was told was looking for talent.
“Bill came to town, and my agent set up a meeting for us,” Bowman said. “I was told that Bill wanted to get to know me and my acting abilities and skill level, and wanted to know what sort of marketing ability I had. He had me come meet him whenever he was in town to do meet-and-greets, and he’d give me acting lessons. Then, he started flying me around to major cities to events to get accustomed to being around celebrities, and, he said, to see if I was worthy of mentoring.”
Barbara Bowman said it was “overwhelming” to have Bill Cosby as a mentor, saying he “worked me over emotionally and psychologically.”
“He broke me down and really preyed on my insecurities… I had no father figure in my life, so he zoomed right in on that and tried to make me feel as though he loved me like a father would,” she said.
Bowman said the abuse took a turn when she was 18. While leading her through an acting exercise, Cosby instructed Bowman to wet her hair down and act as if she were drunk, she told Newsweek. Bowman said she could feel Cosby touching her.
The incidents grew from there, she said.
“Once in Reno, Nevada, he flew me out for a celebrity ski classic,” she said. “He got me in a hotel room and fed me a lot of alcohol. He pinned me down in his suite on the couch, and he had me masturbate him. He really intimidated me, and I panicked.”
Bowman said there were several more incidents of abuse, but when Cosby tried to sexually assault her again in Atlantic City she “fought so hard and I was screaming so loud that he got mad and threw me aside and got away from me, and that was it.” After that she said she was dropped by her agent and her career ended.
While Barbara Bowman is airing her sexual assault allegations, Bill Cosby has seen a career revival of sorts. The 76-year-old just had his first televised comedy special in 30 years, and has talked about returning to television for a sitcom.