Saturday November 22, 2014
Read Full Column on NYPOST.com
By Andrea Peyser
November 20, 2014
How does Bill Cosby sleep at night?
Before the reputation of the 77-year-old comedian, author and Jell-O Pudding pitchman hit rock bottom, there was Autumn Jackson.
Before Cosby was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a passel of women — I think the number is up to at least 17, but I stink at math — Jackson cried out that this man was her father. And Cosby treated the young lady like roadkill.
Jackson and the guy who played the genial Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show’’ had a reunion of sorts in 1997. In a depressing trial in New York City, Jackson, then 22, faced Cosby, who’d just turned 60, in Manhattan federal court. The married father of five acknowledged kids had admitted in an interview that he’d enjoyed a “rendezvous’’ with Jackson’s mother. And Cosby, who all but said that he was, at best, a lousy husband and, at worst, a rank hypocrite, testified that he paid the mother and daughter $100,000 over the years to keep his image-crushing extramarital affair a secret.
In the end, Cosby won slobbering applause from starstruck jurors who convicted Jackson of extortion, conspiracy and crossing state lines to commit a crime — she threatened to sell a story of his possible paternity to a supermarket tabloid if he failed to fork over $40 million.
That is, Autumn Jackson threatened to tell what she believed to be the truth.
A judge sentenced her to 26 months in federal prison. Jackson then gave birth while doing time in a halfway house to twin boys by husband Antonay Williams, who pleaded guilty himself to charges of conspiracy and aiding and abetting an extortion, but served just five years’ probation after ratting out Jackson. Thus ended a case that was the shame of this city.
We never learned if Cosby is her father.
“I’m reading all these Cosby stories and I’m saying, ‘Andrea was right,’ ” Robert Baum, Jackson’s federal public defender, told me this week. “You were one of the few journalists who didn’t think Cosby was the victim.
“When I was preparing for trial, I received calls from women who said they, too, had had sexual relations with Cosby,’’ said Baum. “They didn’t say they were raped. I didn’t think it was relevant to my case.’’ Of course, Cosby has been wed to his poor, suffering wife, Camille, since 1964, which might make these claims relevant to her.
Cosby’s carefully crafted public facade started crashing down around his ears last month, when comedian Hannibal Buress trashed Cosby for lecturing black men to be responsible dads — he wrote a book called “Fatherhood’’ for goodness’ sake — even as allegations swirled for years that he sexually attacked women.
“Pull up your pants, black people,’’ Burress cracked during a standup comedy show in Philadelphia. “Yes, but you raped women, Bill Cosby.’’
Then women started speaking out, claiming that they were drugged and sexually violated by the star. One of Cosby’s lawyers, John Schmitt, put out a statement calling rape claims “decade-old, discredited allegations.’’ Then lawyers for Cosby and Andrea Costand dialed back the blanket denial, acknowledging that Cosby in 2006 reached a settlement with Costand over a sexual-assault claim she filed against him. When I reached Schmitt on the phone, he hung up on me.
This past Tuesday, former supermodel Janice Dickinson, now 59, said on the syndicated TV show “Entertainment Tonight’’ that Cosby gave her a pill and raped her in 1982. One of his lawyers, Martin Singer, called the claim a “lie.” Also on Tuesday, Autumn Jackson’s mom, Cosby’s one-time mistress Shawn Brown, now 61, told the TV show “Inside Edition’’ that she believed that the entertainer drugged and raped her — nine months before she gave birth to her daughter.
Tuesday night, Netflix postponed indefinitely the streaming of a special, “Bill Cosby 77,’’ which had been set to premiere Nov. 28. On Wednesday, NBC scrapped a sitcom it had in development with Cosby. The TV Land network dropped plans to air reruns of “The Bill Cosby Show.’’
When I spoke to Autumn Jackson in 1999, she told me that if she could speak to Cosby, she’d tell him, “I’d like to apologize for all [you have] gone through.’’ She held out the hope that he would one day seek a relationship with her. “If not for me, for my sons.’’ The sons that she believes, to this day, are Cosby’s grandchildren.
She’ll have to wait a long time.
Read Full Column on NYPOST.com