Over a dozen women who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault will talk firsthand about their experiences as part of an hour-long special titled Cosby: The Women Speak. The show will air this Thursday, September 17th at 9 p.m. EST on A&E. The special also promises to reveal new information in the case against Cosby as well as examine the decades of allegations levied against the comic.
Among the accusers participating in Cosby: The Women Speak are actress Louisa Moritz, publicist Joan Tarshis and model Beverly Johnson, with the latter among the most vocal regarding alleged sexual misconduct she endured while with the comedian. In December 2014, Johnson shared her story with Vanity Fair and supplied a harrowing account of being "drugged and raped" by Cosby. The special will also focus on how a comedy routine by Hannibal Buress went viral and reopened the floodgates, making it safe for dozens of Cosby's accusers to step forward.
In July, an unsealed 2005 deposition revealed new information on the allegations, as the comedian himself admitted to giving women sedatives at parties, although he testified that it was never without their consent. "I think I'm a pretty decent reader of people and their emotions in these romantic sexual things, whatever you want to call them," Cosby said on the subject of nonverbal consent.
The allegations against Cosby sparked a petition asking that his Presidential Medal of Freedom be revoked. While President Barack Obama admitted there is "no mechanism" in place to take away the honor, he harshly alluded to the comedian's predicament.
"I'll say this: If you give a woman — or a man, for that matter — without his or her knowledge, a drug, and then have sex with that person without consent, that’s rape," Obama said. "And I think this country, any civilized country, should have no tolerance for rape."