Beverly Johnson: Why Is She Speaking Out Against Bill Cosby Now?

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Earlier this week, Beverly Johnson opened up about a disturbing interaction with Bill Cosby in the 1980s.

Via an essay in Vanity Fair, the model said Cosby drugged her, dragged her down a flight of stairs and would have sexually assault her if Johnson didn't cause a scene, allegedly prompting the comedian to send her away in a taxi.

Why did it take so long for Johnson to come out with this story?

In an interview with People, the first African-American to appear on the cover of Vogue said the other women who have recently accused Cosby of rape gave her “the courage” to share what happened to her.

But "it was not easy."

Explained Johnson:

"At the time it happened, Bill Cosby was on top of the world and he was very powerful in Hollywood and I was in Hollywood trying to make this transition from model to actress, and so I had a lot of fear about speaking out."

The model recalls becoming disoriented soon after Cosby convinced her to drink a cappuccino while they were rehearsing a scene for The Cosby Show at the star's house.

"I knew that it was getting worse and that's why I became more agitated, trying to defend myself," Johnson tells People. "I knew from the moment I took the first sip. It hit me that fast."

Johnson refers to Cosby’s drugging as a “cowardly act” in the interview and details how the actor grew “agitated and pissed” the more she fought back.

At the time, Johnson says she had no idea about any other alleged incidents of sexual assault.

"I didn't know that he was raping women," she says now. "That came out years after, and … it became more ugly and more sinister and more violent and dangerous. But at that point, I was an aspiring actress and I was scared."

Johnson considers herself fortune because, unlike others who have come forward in the past few weeks, she did not get raped by Cosby.

But that doesn't mean the situation wasn't jarring.

"This was not easy for me to do, particularly with the racial climate today and what is happening with black men. But this was bigger than Bill Cosby – this was about sexual violence against women, and I think by telling my story it allowed me to shine a light and reveal that the shame of being sexually abused is often kept in the dark."

She concludes:

"You have to take action. Bill Cosby took my power that day, and I took my power back today. Maybe it took 30 years, but I did."

Cosby's lawyer, Martin Singer, has denied all previous accusations of sexual misconduct by his client.

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