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For more than 30 years, the media has covered the life and career of Bill Cosby. In January, sexual-assault allegations were leveled against him by a Canadian woman and are currently being investigated by authorities in Pennsylvania.
In the public charges, the woman alleges that Cosby drugged and groped her in January 2004. This is a story he categorically denies. In addition, a second woman, a California lawyer named Tamara Green, is claiming Cosby did the same thing to her in the 1970s.
This is a difficult story to cover, but these allegations seem serious enough, and Cosby is prominent enough, that they deserve a closer look. Cosby is an icon known for his support of education, his generosity, and his outspoken belief of personal responsibility.
“Today” host Matt Lauer spoke with Green in an exclusive interview and asked why she waited 30 years to come forward.
Tamara Green: I heard that there had been a sexual assault, and that by itself didn't prompt me to come forward, but then I heard that this woman had been given pills, was in a position of trust and friendship with this man, and that behind the pills he took her clothes off and groped her and what have you. I thought, you know, after all these years, it's the same M.O. The same old story, and I still didn't come forward.
But when I heard it reported that the district attorney had said that the story was weak, that she had not come forward in a timely fashion, that was for me them saying that they were not going to file the case. That they didn’t believe her. It was at that time I decided that if there were only two us, one a long time ago and one right now, then that's two too many.
Green says her encounter with Cosby began at a working lunch at a restaurant in Los Angeles. She was suffering from the flu.
Green: Well, there were a number of people at the table, friends of his, and he said to me, yes, you do seem ill, you're slightly feverish, would you like to have some Contact? You know, the cold medicine. And I thought, why not, can’t hurt. So he went into some sort of office area at the back of the restaurant and he produced two capsules in his hand. I thought nothing of it and I took the capsules. In about, I don't know, 20 to 30 minutes I felt great and then about 10 minutes after that I was almost literally face down on the table of this restaurant.
Matt Lauer: And then what happened?
Green: So he volunteered…
Lauer: To take you home?
Green: Yes. He said, “Oh my, you must be more ill then we believed. I totally lost motor control; I was almost unable to hold my head up. I was very, very, very stoned. He took me into my apartment and then very helpfully and nicely was prepared to take off my clothes and help me into bed and pet me, and that's how the actual assault began.
Lauer: And you say you lost control of motor control. Were you able to talk to him? Did you say, "I don’t want you to take my clothes off," anything like that?
Green: Well, at first when I got into my apartment and I was so, I didn’t know how sick I was or how stoned I was, but I slowly began to understand that I had not taken Contact. The center of my being understood that he had gone from helping me to groping me and kissing me and touching me and handling me and you know, taking off my clothes.
Lauer: And so how did this incident end?
Green: I actually told him that he would have to kill me, that if he didn't kill me and he tried to rape me, it was going to go very badly. And I was furious and I'm throwing things around. So he, you know, I guess it was inconvenient at that point, I had not been crushed successfully into submission and he left two $100 bills on my coffee table and he left my apartment.
Lauer: Why didn’t you call the police after the medication wore off?
Green: Well, because, first of all I was very ill, the reason I took the medication is because I had some vile flu.
Lauer: But what about a week later, what about days later?
Green: Well let me tell you, and I understand this about the current victim. The first thing you feel is stupid, and then you feel that no one will believe you. This is the great Bill Cosby, he has tremendous wealth, power, a p.r. machine, a reputation, he is Mr. Jell-O, but the worst thing you feel is stupid. There's a shame element involved.
The second element for me was that very soon after the attack, my brother was terminally ill in the Children's Hospital, and Bill went there and gave him a portable radio, glad-handed with all the children and was the hero of the terminal children's ward. My brother died not long after that. I was unwilling at the time my brother was alive to take that away from him.
Lauer: Let me read you a statement from Bill Cosby’s lawyer who says, "Miss Green’s allegations are absolutely false. Mr. Cosby does not know the name Tamara Green or Tamara Lucier," which is your maiden name, "and the incident she describes did not happen. The fact that she may have repeated this story to others is not corroboration." What is your reaction to that?
Green: Well, I mean, what do you expect him to say? “I remember her. I tried to rape her in the ’70s by giving her drugs”? I think that in fairness to Mr. Cosby, he's the type of person who's probably met a million people between the time that he met me and the present time. That he doesn't remember my name, if I may quote his lawyer, does not indicate he did not know me.
And the fact that I told people close in time the exact details of this story, which so much matched the details of the new victim, is the reason that I decided to come forward. I heard them say about her, that it didn't happen, that it's preposterous that Bill Cosby would do such a thing. Well it's not preposterous. He did it to me.
Lauer: But as an attorney, and knowing about the burden of proof, and in a situation like this where there are only two people who were in that room 30 years ago and both will tell a different story of what occurred, are you comfortable with what you have in terms of facts?
Green: I know what happened and he knows what happened. If I am the only other victim besides the present victim then that's two too many.
Lauer: Are you prepared for a possible backlash from this?
Green: Well my legal fees will be cheaper than his. And I am prepared for the backlash. I know that this is not going to be appreciated by people who love and adore but do not know Bill Cosby. I understand the impact that this statement has. But I understand that there is a woman who has made allegations which would have otherwise been swept under the rug if another story with similar circumstances had not emerged, no matter how long ago it had occurred.