In the end, it was the number of women who came forward with strikingly similar stories about Bill Cosby that elevated long circulating, unproven accusations to an international story few could ignore.
Now New York magazine has photographed 35 of the 46 women who have accused Cosby of sexual assaults between the ’60s and the ’90s. Much like hearing story after story of women who describe being drugged and raped by the 78-year-old, there is power in their numbers.
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) July 27, 2015
Inside, the individual portraits of the alleged victims, including models Janice Dickinson and Beverly Johnson, are accompanied by stories told in their own words. Toronto’s Andrea Constand, who accused Cosby of sexual assault in 2005, is absent, as per the conditions of a settlement reached in 2006. At the time, the district attorney for the case said, “A conviction under the circumstances of this case would be unattainable.”
Cosby’s attorney Monique Pressley addressed the cover on Good Morning America on Monday. “Mr. Cosby has denied the accusations that have been lodged thus far,” she said. “The sheer volume or number of people who are saying a particular thing does not make it true.”
The empty 36th chair on the cover has sparked the hashtag #TheEmptyChair, with women sharing their own stories of sexual assault. With all 35 cases against Cosby considered beyond the statute of limitations under American law, he may never have to face his accusers in court. But their united voices are inspiring other women to speak without shame and know they are not alone.
Every single time discussions of sexual assault show up on the TL, I’m reminded of why I didn’t report mine. #TheEmptyChair
— Maca Flocka Flame (@steenfox) July 27, 2015
#TheEmptyChair was filled by another person I love this weekend. Another chair, another person I love. I’m heartbroken
— RBinsky (@Rbinsky5) July 27, 2015
— 5’7 Black Male (@absurdistwords) July 27, 2015
TW: rape 83% of women w develop. disabilities are sexually assaulted 49% are assaulted more than 10x 3% are reported #TheEmptyChair
— IsaJennie (@IsaJennie) July 27, 2015
Due to a cyber attack “unrelated” to the Cosby story, New York Magazine was offline as of Monday. But the full story can still be found on NYMag’s tumblr.