Ten years ago this past February, California attorney Tamara Green was the first woman to come forward and publicly support Andrea Constand’s drugging and sexual assault allegations against entertainer Bill Cosby with a harrowing tale of her own.
With that, the former model, who said Cosby drugged and tried to sexually assault her back in 1970, became front and center in a national media firestorm that had just begun to quiet down. Not only did Bill Cosby’s representatives deny it happened, they denied he even knew her and began leaking negative information about her to the press, including reports she was sanctioned for overdrawing a legal client’s trust account. Every skeleton in her closet came tumbling out. Green eventually retreated to her home in southern California, penned in by the ocean on one side and the media on the other.
When the scandal resurfaced last year, Green once again found herself being publicly branded a liar. This time, she fought back. She hired prominent Washington, D.C. attorney Joseph Cammarata and filed a defamation lawsuit against Cosby.
“To quote the great Yogi Berra, ‘It was deja vu all over again,” Green tells PEOPLE in an exclusive new interview from her home in southern California. “It was me being a liar again. It was me falsely accusing somebody again. It was me being scrutinized again.”
On October 9, U. S. District Judge Mark Mastroianni denied Cosby’s motion to throw out her lawsuit.
“I was just really thrilled and relieved,” Green, now 67 and retired, tells PEOPLE in her first public comments since the judge’s ruling. “I want people to know I’m willing to tell the truth in front of a jury under penalty of perjury because it’s a true story and it needed to be told. I think it’s more credible than just a ‘he said, she said.’
“And frankly, Bill Cosby gets to have his day in court, too,” she says. “It’s my gift to Bill Cosby that he should have his day in court I’m so grateful to take this to a forum where this will be settled so people won’t ask me the dreaded question, ‘Why should we believe you?’ ”
‘I Thought It Was Important To Support That One Woman. I Had No Idea How Many It Would Become.’
More than 50 women have since come forward saying Cosby, now 78, drugged and/or sexually assaulted them. Monique Pressley, Cosby’s chief spokeswoman, declined to comment for this story. She has vehemently denied all the allegations.
As for Green, she knows it won’t be easy to relive everything again.
“I have to say that after we got the ruling I had nightmares,” she says. “I thought, ‘Here we go. Game on.’ Theorizing about it and wishing for it and hoping for it is an altogether different thing than when the gate opens, the bell rings and the old horse jumps out of the gate.”
It also stirred up memories about what she went through ten years ago, she says.
“It’s difficult to live under that kind of scrutiny,” she says. “People really thought I was the villain. I was the bad guy. People look at you and say, ‘Well, you’re just trying to get attention. You’re just trying to get money.’ ”
But coming forward wasn’t about either of those things, she says.
“I thought it was important to support that one woman,” she says. “I had no idea how many it would become.”
Ten years ago, Green decided to speak out after hearing media reports indicating the prosecutor was not going to file charges in Constand’s case. (Even after Green and then others came forward with allegations against Cosby, the district attorney still opted against filing charges.
Green reached out to the investigators handling the case then to Dolores Troiani one of Contand’s attorneys.
“I told her ‘I’m wiling to come out and publicize it with my own name and own story,’ ” she says.
Green is still stunned by the negative impact telling her story had on her life.
“It was devastating,” she says. “It never occurred to me no one would believe me. Why would I stand up and stick my neck out and take the heat I was taking if I weren’t telling the truth?”
She says she lost clients and even long-time friends looked at her with skepticism. Plus, “I was really afraid,” she says.
“I can’t tell you of what,” she says. “It was more of deep anxiety and fear. I didn’t know whether somebody loved him so much I’d be in some kind of danger but I felt much better behind gates.”
She says she never thought about suing for defamation back then because “it wasn’t about me. It was about Andrea.”
‘I Want This Festering Square Off My Quilt’
It also never occurred to her to be anonymous, she says.
“If I’m going to tell my story about myself and it’s a true story I’m willing to be who I am,” she says. “It never crossed my mind to be a Jane Doe. I didn’t know there was such a thing. I wanted them to take me seriously. People who speak anonymously can be sniffed at.”
And she doesn’t deny at least some of the information leaked about her was true.
“I’m not perfect and I’ve made mistakes but nothing that says you wouldn t want me over for Thanksgiving dinner,” she says. “I’m not a murderer. I’m a person who overdrew my trust account.”
She knows all of that will be revisited as her lawsuit progresses, but she is ready this time.
“It’s an old wound,” she says. “I think of my life as a patchwork quilt. I look at each square in the quilt and I have wonderful memories, wonderful experiences. Children and grandchildren and joy and love.
“And then there’s this one square of festering crap that’s right in the middle of my quilt,” she says. “And it never goes away and it doesn t stop festering and it hurts you every time you think of it. And then to have people say you created it yourself, that’s very difficult to deal with. I’m not good at that.
“My son calls me a rough, tough cream puff but I’m just not tough like that,” she says. “So I want this festering square out of my quilt.”
Despite all the grief coming forward caused her, she says she does not regret it.
“I would do it all again even though it was very difficult emotionally, psychologically, professionally and personally,” she says, “because I feel that these 50 plus women were also given a chance to be brave and come forward and I don’t think any of them would have done that if we hadn’t started the ball rolling back in 2005.”