Tamara Green on Bill Cosby assault: ‘He was like a spider, sitting there waiting’
Tamara Green pulled down her long, blond hair, and Bill Cosby handed her a brush. Alone with the actor in a recording studio in Hollywood, she ran the brush through her hair, as instructed, and continued reciting lyrics by the jazzy, smoky-voiced singer Julie London while Cosby watched.
“It was really creepy,” Green recalled in an interview with the Guardian. But the young model dreamed of stardom, and Cosby held the keys to the kingdom, or so she thought, she said. So she brushed.
When the then-model told her friends about the incident later that evening, they warned her to be careful. “They knew,” Green said. “Even back then.”
They knew … Even back then.
This was Hollywood in the early 1970s. By then Cosby had cemented his celebrity status as a television star and stand-up comedian, and she was one of the many young industry women basking in his glow.
Green said she met Cosby through mutual friends. At the time, she said she was around 20-years-old and worked as a model doing cosmetic and commercial ads for Coca-Cola, Maybelline and other companies. She said on the occasions they were together, Cosby would tell her she was beautiful and talented, and, with just a little help, she could be a star.
“It was the era of free sex and the cult of celebrity,” Green said. “They were all nouveau riche. They went from poor guys to having more money than God, and the next thing you know they’re splashing it around.”
‘I didn’t trust him … But I had no reason not to trust him’
As allegations of sexual assault and rape mount against one of the most storied American celebrities , Green, now 66, spoke with the Guardian about the night she claims Cosby assaulted her, a story she has told privately for more than four decades. She came forward publicly in 2005.
Cosby and his legal team have repeatedly denied Green’s claims. In 2005, the actor told reporters he didn’t even know Green’s name. Cosby’s legal team did not respond to a request by the Guardian for comment on Green’s allegations, but provided a general statement in response to the recent spate of allegations against the actor.
Martin D Singer, Cosby’s lawyer, said in a statement: “These brand new claims about alleged decades-old events are becoming increasingly ridiculous, and it is completely illogical that so many people would have said nothing, done nothing, and made no reports to law enforcement or asserted civil claims if they thought they had been assaulted over a span of so many years.”
At some point during their acquaintance, Cosby asked her to help him raise money to open a private club. One afternoon, she called to tell him she was ill and couldn’t work. He invited her to join him and some friends for lunch. “You might feel better,” Green said he told her.
Persuaded, she went to the restaurant. But once there, she felt even worse. Cosby noticed.
“He was like a spider, sitting there waiting … not just for me but for any opportunity,” she said.
Her illness proved the perfect opportunity, she said. Green said he asked her if she wanted some medicine, and offered capsules of an over-the-counter cold medication.
“I didn’t trust him,” she said. “But I had no reason not to trust him, either.” He extended his hand, she said, and dropped two gray and red pills in hers.
Green swallowed the pills and within minutes she said she felt better. Then about 40 minutes later, she said: “I was face down in my soup.” She said Cosby told the table that she must have been sicker than they thought, and offered to drive her back to her apartment.
Green said he laid her in bed and began undressing her. “I suddenly started to realize that I was not sick, I was stoned, and that I had been drugged,” she said. Then he began to undress, she said.
“I wondered why he needed to peel himself out of his clothes to make me feel better,” she said.
Then, Green said, Cosby groped her with his hands and mouth. “It was pretty grim and horrible,” she said.
Through a lucid haze, she said she tried to fight him. “I made such a struggle, as best I could, but the drugs were so strong. I was throwing things around. I tried to throw my table light through the window. I tried to make it as uncomfortable as I possibly could, while he had his way with me, though I wasn’t raped. He assaulted me.”
I made such a struggle, as best I could, but the drugs were so strong. I was throwing things around.
She said she could tell her struggle made him uncomfortable. He pulled up his pants, dropped two $100 bills on her nightstand, and left.
Green said she awoke the next day infuriated. That morning, she went to visit her brother at the terminal ward of an area children’s hospital where he was being treated for cystic fibrosis. To her surprise, her brother was beaming as he held up a brand new portable radio Cosby had given him that morning. Her brother adored the star, and she said she couldn’t bear the thought of breaking his heart in his final days.
Green said she seethed with anger at the indignity of it all. She was furious and strong, but ultimately helpless. She couldn’t turn to the police, she said she thought at the time, because Cosby was too powerful and there was no proof.
In a burst of anger, Green grabbed a pair of scissors and chopped off the hair that Cosby once watched her brush. She said she became paranoid about locking doors and shutting her windows. She even started sleeping in her clothes. She said to this day she still occasionally goes to bed without taking off her clothes.
Then, she said, she started to tell people, openly but not yet publicly, about the incident: “I told everyone, all the time, sometimes people I didn’t even know. I was constantly telling them: ‘Don’t trust that man, that man’s a sexual predator.’ They’d look at me like I had two heads but I didn’t care. I knew the truth. He knew the truth, the old villain.”
They’d look at me like I had two heads but I didn’t care. I knew the truth. He knew the truth, the old villain.
Green said she was never alone with Cosby again after he allegedly assaulted her in her Los Angeles apartment, though she saw him once more in a hallway in Las Vegas. When she saw him, she said she started screaming: “Rapist! Liar!”
“He had a little tiny posse with him and they turned on their heels and made their getaway,” she said, laughing at the memory. “I told him I was going to tell everyone in the world.
In 2005, Green, at the time a practicing trial lawyer, seized an opportunity to do just that. Inspired by Andrea Constand, who came forward with claims that Cosby had drugged and assaulted her at his home in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, in January 2004, Green too came forward.
The backlash and the vitriol were astonishing, she said. The press swarmed her southern California home; reporters questioned her credibility; people accused her of seeking fame and money.
“There’s a lot of things I’d be famous for before I’d be famous for him having his paws on me,” she said.
But what kept her going were the flowers that filled her home, defaced copies of Cosby’s latest book and the letters she received from women thanking her for her bravery. She said she even received some from women who shared similar stories, but who didn’t feel safe or comfortable coming forward.
Green was one of 13 women who agreed to testify in a civil lawsuit brought by Constand against the actor. She was the only woman who agreed to be named in the documents, alongside 12 anonymous women, listed as “Jane Does”. The case was eventually settled out of court, and the women never testified.
Green said she knew the other women involved in the case, but said she hasn’t heard from most of them since. She said she has also spoken to other women claiming assault against him who were not part of the lawsuit.
She said the women’s stories were remarkably, but not surprisingly, similar. They involved drugs and a mentoring relationship between the woman and Cosby. She calls this alleged routine his “kink”.
Green said, looking back on the comedian’s alleged pattern, that Cosby selected his women carefully. He vetted women, she said, to make sure they didn’t have a strong support network of protective parents or a football player boyfriend who might kick up trouble. In Green’s case for example, she said her parents lived abroad and her brother was terminally ill.
Going forward after a decade of silence
After the storm, nearly a decade of silence followed.
Then, in November, an ill-conceived attempt to prompt a social-media meme backfired when people responded with references to allegations of sexual assault made by a number of women.
In extraordinarily rapid succession, women who have never spoken out before are coming forward with similar claims spanning 40 years. At the time of publication, seven women had come forward publicly signing their names to the accusations made years ago.
“Suddenly they feel it’s OK,” Green said. “They feel the swing in public opinion in favor of women instead of against women, the way it was in 2005. Now they have the confidence to come out and support the women who have been taking the heat for all these years and I applaud them and I am grateful.”
Green said she never regretted coming forward, but there were consequences. Her law practice suffered. She said clients began to doubt her seriousness and some in her social circle cut off ties because they didn’t like the dark cloud of attention the accusations brought.
Now retired, Green lives in southern California near the ocean, her antidote to the stress of dealing with Parkinson’s disease and renewed scrutiny over her claims against the star.
“Bill Cosby didn’t pick his victim well when he picked me,” she said. “Because I told him at the time, ‘You better kill me’ because I’m going to tell everybody I ever meet for the rest of my natural life what you did to me.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2014