In 1969 I met Bill Cosby while working in New York for the late film producer Ray Stark. I was a 21-year-old single woman in the world's most exciting city. He was a 32-year-old internationally known comedian and television star, one of the most likeable and popular entertainers in the business. He asked for my number and I gave it to him.
We began hanging out, took in a movie, watched television and ate pizza and hot dogs in my apartment with my roommate. He was married to his current wife, and he acted like a perfect gentleman who didn't come on to either of us, which, I have to admit, made me wonder what his objective was.
One night we were going out to a movie. We agreed to meet at an apartment that he said belonged to a friend of his. I had a terrible headache but didn't want to cancel the evening. He told me he had a miracle cure his doctor had given him that would get rid of the headache. He went into another room and came back with a capsule. I asked a couple of times what it was. Each time he reassured me, asking, "Don't you trust me?" Of course I did. This was Bill Cosby.
For more than 45 years I have tried to recall exactly what happened that night. To this day it remains a blur. I have a vague recollection of feeling like I was floating while walking through Times Square and watching some kind of Japanese samurai movie with him. I don't remember where the theater was nor very much of the evening.
What I do recall, vividly and clearly, is waking up the next morning nude in the bed of his friend's apartment and seeing Cosby wearing a white terrycloth bathrobe and acting as if there was nothing unusual. It was obvious to me that he had had sex with me. I was horrified, embarrassed and ashamed. There was a mirror above the bed, which shocked me further.
After some awkward small talk, I got out of there as fast as I could. Once in the elevator, I broke down crying, which I continued to do as I walked home to my apartment in the east 70s. It never occurred to me to go to the police. It was a different time and "date rape" was a concept that didn't exist. I just kept asking myself over and over in disbelief why this had happened to me. Other than my roommate, I did not discuss that night with anyone for 36 years.
Like millions of people, I watched The Cosby Show at its zenith and was a fan. But as I watched Dr. Cliff Huxtable, so compassionate and kind, so honorable and wise, I could never reconcile that image with the Bill Cosby I encountered so many years ago.
Those who suffer from these types of assaults know the prison of shame, bewilderment and disbelief. Like so many victims, my way of coping was to shove the memory into the back of my mind. I only revealed nine years ago, to my husband of nearly 30 years, what happened that night, after another woman went public with similar allegations and sued Cosby. I always thought I was the only one. I couldn't believe he had done this to others. I told my story to our attorney, who is also a good friend, because I was considering going public then, but eventually chose not to because the case was settled.
This is the first time I have chosen to speak out about that night. It is also the last time I intend to address it publicly. I have no plans to sue, I don't want or need money. I have no plans for a press conference or for doing any interviews.
So why speak out at all and why now? The simple answer is that it's the right thing to do. The truth deserves to be known. As I write this, more than 20 women have come forward, many with stories that are remarkably similar to mine. In response to these brave women, I have read comments like, "What took them so long?" and "What are they after now"? I would ask these people to remember that up until relatively recently, prosecuting rape was a "he said/she said" proposition where the victim was blamed for having worn "suggestive clothing" or questioned as to why she went somewhere with her rapist.
When this happened to me, the idea of drugging someone and raping her was almost fantastical. It was years before "date rape" drugs made the news, but it was a perfect modus operandi for a predator, rendering his victim unconscious or so incapacitated as to be unable to clearly answer police questions about the incident. After having done a lot of work on myself, I realize that we are only as sick as the secrets we keep. Once those secrets are spoken aloud, even if to just one person, they lose their power. I no longer feel the shame that kept me silent. Yes, I could have told my story years ago, and in hindsight I probably should have. It's time now that my voice be added and to finally pull the curtain back from this dark moment in my life.
Having come of age in the late 1960s and early 1970s before marrying in the mid 1980s, at 37, I certainly have a history. The difference is that any other relationships were consensual ... my encounter with Bill Cosby was most certainly not.
In the years since that night I have crossed paths with Cosby only once, when my husband, a highly successful Oscar-winning film executive and producer, introduced me to him. I was shaking, wondering if he would recognize me by my unusual first name. His reaction spoke volumes. To Bill Cosby, I was just another stranger.
Cindra Ladd is a former entertainment executive in the film business who currently is involved with various charities in Los Angeles. Her husband, Alan Ladd Jr., is a film producer whose works includes Blade Runner, The Right Stuff and the Academy Award-winning best pictures Braveheart and Chariots of Fire. During his more than 50-year career he also served as president of Twentieth Century Fox and Chairman of MGM/UA.
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