In 2005, Bill Cosby testified under oath that he gave The National Enquirer an exclusive interview in exchange for the tabloid's promise to spike a story about a previously undisclosed sexual assault allegation from a woman named Beth Ferrier. "I would give them an exclusive story, my words," Cosby said in the testimony. And in return, "[The National Enquirer] would not print the story of -- print Beth's story."
Cosby's statements, obtained by The New York Times and Associated Press, came during a deposition for a civil lawsuit filed by Andrea Constand, who claimed Cosby drugged and assaulted her.
According to the Times, Cosby admitted in the previously sealed court documents that he believed if the public knew about Ferrier's allegations, it would give more validity to Constand's claims:
"Did you ever think that if Beth Ferrier's story was printed in the National Enquirer, that that would make the public believe that maybe Andrea was also telling the truth?" Cosby was asked.
"Exactly,” he replied.
Robin Mizrahi, a senior reporter for The National Enquirer who was tasked with the Ferrier story, revealed last week to The Guardian that the tabloid spiked the piece under pressure from the actor's lawyers. A new article, which featured an interview with Cosby in which he discussed allegations made against him by Constand and a woman named Tamara Green, was published instead.
According to The New York Times, the tabloid's exclusive ("Bill Cosby Ends His Silence: My Story!”) described the comic as "furious" about the allegations. “Sometimes you try to help people and it backfires on you, and then they try to take advantage of you," Cosby was quoted as saying in the 2005 piece. "I am not going to give in to people who try to exploit me because of my celebrity status."
Cosby's representative, David Brokaw, and Cosby's lawyer, Martin Singer, did not respond to requests from The Huffington Post early Thursday morning for comment on the claims. A rep for American Media, Inc., which owns The National Enquirer, said in a statement to the AP on Wednesday that the tabloid was "unflinching" in its coverage of the allegations against the actor.
"We continue to remain aggressive in our reporting today and stand by the integrity of our coverage of this story which we have taken the lead on for more than a decade," the representative said.
Cosby has a long history with The National Enquirer. On Monday, Page Six's Richard Johnson relayed claims from a former Enquirer reporter who said Cosby leaked a 1989 story about his daughter's drug problem. In exchange, the paper buried another story about Cosby allegedly "swinging with Sammy Davis Jr. and some showgirls in Las Vegas."
In 1997, the Enquirer offered a $100,000 reward for information on the death of Cosby's son, Ennis Cosby. According to a 1998 New York Times article about the conviction of Ennis Cosby's killer, the tabloid received a tip from a man named Christopher So, who would go on to be one of the key witnesses in the case.
"The story is not true. It did not happen," Brokaw said in a statement to the New York Post. "Mr. Cosby was not contacted by the police and the first he learned about this was from the National Enquirer."
"The Enquirer has an absolute right to report on this controversy and will not be intimidated by Mr. Cosby's threat," Enquirer publisher David J. Pecker said in a statement at the time. "Should Mr. Cosby bring a lawsuit, the Enquirer will seek appropriate sanctions against him."
For more, head to the New York Times.