Beverly Johnson Speaks Out About New Bill Cosby Revelations: 'No One Has the Right to Another's Body or Sexuality'
The supermodel reacts to the comedian's 2005 admission he gave women Quaaludes before sex
Beverly Johnson, one of the first African-American supermodels, who claimed last December that she had been drugged by Bill Cosby in the mid-1980s when she met him for an alleged audition, tells PEOPLE that the latest revelation – that he admitted in a 2005 deposition to having seven prescriptions for Quaaludes with the intent of using them for sexual encounters – is another reminder of the importance of speaking out.
“It is unfortunate the amount of proof required to make a woman’s voice valid,” Johnson, 62, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive statement.
“In the past year of this conversation around Bill Cosby’s actions against many women, including myself, the most unfortunate thing is the lesson we are teaching children about the worth of a woman’s body,” says Johnson, who in 1974 became the first African-American model to appear on the cover of American Vogue. “I don’t know if every woman who has been sexually attacked and comes forward will be one of the many – or one who stands on her own. But as this conversation on Cosby’s actions continues, I hope that anyone with kids is thinking of teaching them that no one has the right to another’s body or sexuality.”
“Not every attacker is going to be someone who is lurking in the alley or an unattractive character,” continues Johnson, the mother of model Anansa Sims and a grandmother of three. “It is as likely that someone who is charismatic and successful will decide to do something heinous.”
“We must ask ourselves if the lesson we want to teach our kids is that, again, a woman’s voice and body are not valuable or precious or valid,” says Johnson, author of an upcoming memoir, The Face That Changed It All. “I know my truth, and I hope for a society that is sensitive to the protection of women, regardless of the stakes. I hope, as we live in a time in our nation where conversations on race, sexuality and gender are at hand, that we have the difficult conversations with our friends and family so that it is commonplace to defend everyone’s right to be protected from all predators, no matter their status or accomplishments.”
Johnson, one of more than 40 women who have come forward, concludes, “I hope that the lesson is that rape and any form of sexual assault is wrong, that silencing women’s voices is wrong and that protecting a predator over the assaulted for the sake of protecting power is devastating.”
Cosby’s lawyer, Martin Singer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but on Nov. 21 he issued this statement regarding the allegations against the comedian:
“The new, never-before-heard claims from women who have come forward in the past two weeks with unsubstantiated, fantastical stories about things they say occurred 30, 40 or even 50 years ago have escalated past the point of absurdity.”