Back in October, former Denver resident Barbara Bowman told her story of alleged rape by entertainer Bill Cosby. Since then, a many other accusers have surfaced, bringing accusations that had seemingly faded away back to the public's attention -- and subsequent Cosby gaffes, like a Twitter invitation to "Meme me" that resulted in an explosion of sex-assault-related graphics, only made the situation worse.
This Saturday, Cosby is scheduled to perform two shows at the Buell Theatre, and its promoter says the show will go on. But refunds are being offered, a protest is scheduled and a Denver City Councilwoman is expressing sympathy with those disturbed by the prospect of Cosby's impending visit.
See also: Barbara Bowman's Story of Alleged Rape by Bill Cosby Begins in Denver, published October 29, 2014
As we've reported, Bowman says she first encountered Cosby in 1985 at the Turn of the Century, located at 7300 East Hampden, which was among the toniest venues of its day, attracting some of the biggest names in live entertainment. At the time, she was a seventeen-year-old student and aspiring actress. Here's an excerpt from the U.K. Mail piece in which she told her story:
"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."
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After that, Bowman maintains that Cosby made it a point to meet with her whenever he was in Denver, where she was raised from age nine, and flew her and family members around the country, including to New York City to see Broadway shows. But according to her, he was less interested in helping her achieve her acting dreams than in hotel room rendezvous and other encounters that she characterizes as sexually and emotionally abusive.
One time, she tells the paper, she's sure she was given a drugged glass of wine and fears she was sexually assaulted while incapacitated; on another occasion, she says Cosby threw her down on a bed and seemed ready to rape her, only to stop in the face of her continual screaming.
The drugged-drink M.O. became a theme of similar reports that surfaced after Bowman came forward. Among those mentioning it was former supermodel Janice Dickinson, who said he responded to her complaints of a stomach ache by giving her a glass of red wine and a pill that essentially knocked her out -- but before she lost consciousness, she recalled "Bill Cosby in a patchwork robe, dropping his robe and getting on top of me. And I remember a lot of pain."
And then came the "Meme me" debacle, which resulted in tweets like this one....
— Jason Steele (@FilmCow) November 10, 2014
...and this one:
— The Notorious T.I.M (@BionicBombshell) November 10, 2014
Cosby has tried to ride out the controversy (and has consistently denied wrongdoing over a period of years), but the furor has only grown.
In advance of his two shows at the Buell, scheduled for 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday, January 17, 9News notes that attorney Gloria Allred, who reportedly represents seven of Cosby's accusers, plans two events to draw attention to his alleged activities. She's scheduled to hold a "teach-in" at the Crawford Hotel, 1701 Wynkoop, at 2 p.m., with at least one sexual-assault victim expected to accompany her. Then, at 4 p.m., Allred and members of an organization dubbed "Turn Back Cosby" plan to make their displeasure known outside the Buell itself. Also weighing in is Denver City Councilwoman Susan Shepherd, who at a Monday council meeting declined to vote in favor of an incentives package for AEG Live due to the Cosby events, which the company is promoting. She tells 9News, "There are people that are hurting. And this doesn't feel good..this feels uncomfortable. Victims of abuse often don't feel free to speak up. I feel like it was very important for those people in our community to hear from a member in council, a woman in leadership- willing to be sympathetic to how they feel and to stand for them in this situation."
Nonetheless, AEG Live's Chuck Morris isn't pulling the plug on the shows, telling the station he doesn't feel right doing so given that Cosby has yet to be convicted of the acts attributed to him. But Ticketmaster is offering refunds to the 3,000 or so people who've purchased tickets to date if they've now decided that spending an evening with Cosby wouldn't be that amusing after all.
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Look below to see a 7News piece about Cosby's Denver gigs.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.