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Supermodel and actress Beverly Johnson

Supermodel and actress Beverly Johnson, the first Black model ever to grace the cover of Vogue magazine, has joined the growing ranks of women who have publicly accused comedian and icon Bill Cosby of drugging and, in most cases, sexually assaulting them.

Johnson did not accuse Cosby of sexual assault, but claimed that he drugged her after presenting himself as a mentor and twice inviting her to his home.

In an op-ed for Vanity Fair, Johnson wrote that Cosby invited her to his home on two occasions after Cosby contacted her through an agent to audition for a small role on his show in the mid-80s. During the second visit, Johnson said that Cosby insisted she try some cappuccino from his espresso machine. Johnson agreed and took a few sips before realizing she had been drugged.

“I was a top model during the 70s,” Johnson wrote, “a period when drugs flowed at parties and photo shoots like bottled water at a health spa. I’d had my fun and experimented with my fair share of mood enhancers. I knew by the second sip of the drink Cosby had given me that I’d been drugged—and drugged good.”

Johnson claimed that she immediately began cursing Cosby, who handled her roughly, dragged her outside of his home, and shoved her into the back a cab.

Johnson said she had kept silent about the incident until now, partly out of fear of the repercussions stories like hers have had in developing stereotypes of Black and brown men. She cited the cases of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner as examples of the sorts of tragedies she wanted to avoid fueling by telling a story that would conform to some of the worst stereotypes already assumed about Black men.

“I reached the conclusion that the current attack on African American men has absolutely nothing to do at all with Bill Cosby,” Johnson wrote. “He brought this on himself when he decided he had the right to have his way with who knows how many women over the last four decades. If anything, Cosby is distinguished from the majority of Black men in this country because he could depend on the powers that be for support and protection.”


ralejandro@afro.com