In July of 2015, Bill Cosby gave a deposition where he admitted to getting Quaaludes with the intention of using them to drug women and sexually assaulted them. Ultimately, it was this deposition that convinced the jury in his 2018 retrial to find him guilty of felony sexual assault. A few years ago, as the tornado of bad press reached emergency levels, Camille Cosby called a meeting of her husband’s legal and publicity teams. After all, she wasn’t just his wife. As his long-time manager, it was her job to oversee the plan to deal with the fallout of several dozen allegations from women across the country and spanning decades.
“They are making him out to be such a bad guy, a monster,” she said, according to a witness.
Over the next few months, Camille and her team were strategic. While she didn’t often speak to the press, her team made sure to send out talking points on her behalf. As time went on, Andrew Wyatt, Cosby’s spokesperson, began to speak with her throughout the day to keep her updated and then, each evening, he called her and wrapped up the day and made plans to review legal issues happening the next day. This is not a clueless wife waiting in the wings. This is a woman who knows exactly what is happening in this case and has opinions about it all.
At one meeting, according to someone attending, she assured all that it would be fine. “I created him. I knew what I was getting and we’ll fix this,” she said.
Married for over 50 years, Camille has been with Bill throughout what we now know was his entire reign of terror. Several of his accusers have alleged that they were attacked at the Cosby home while Camille was there.
In the '70s, Cosby admitted to his wife that he’d initiated a sexual relationship with a woman named Shawn Upshaw. For decades, Cosby has admitted his infidelities to his wife. It seems as if they have an understanding of some type. But of course, infidelities don’t necessarily equal sexual assault.
But if Camille Cosby knew about the stories of her husband’s allegations and knew for certain that he had been unfaithful numerous times, it’s not hard to connect the dots. Shawn Upshaw had a daughter, Autumn Jackson, who made headlines in the ‘90s for attempting to extort Cosby. And this same Upshaw later alleged that after Autumn Jackson’s birth, she was drugged and assaulted by Cosby. Camille knows all about Shawn Upshaw. And so many others. Why does she accept cheating but is unable to even fathom anything else?
Was Camille dumping Quaaludes into cappuccinos? Not likely. But she is still too close to the allegations for comfort. In 1977, former Playboy Bunny Sarita Butterfield alleged that she was assaulted after being invited to have Christmas Eve dinner in the Cosby home with his wife and children. (She says the assault happened while Camille and the children were out of sight.)
How does a woman whose husband has been consistently unfaithful not even mildly question if those same women could be telling the truth about these almost identical stories from 60 accusers? And how does she continue not to question even when she becomes her husband’s manager—and it’s her job to question everything?
Not only did Camille stay silent—when she did open up it was only to drag the accused. In a statement she released in 2015 she said that the accusers were “individuals and organizations whom many in the media have given a pass.”
And then, at the end of the statement: “None of us will ever want to be in the position of attacking a victim. But the question should be asked—who is the victim?” A scathing indictment of dozens of women with a connection to her husband.
It’s been said that she believes any drug use between Cosby and his accusers was consensual—as well as any sexual contact. We can’t judge her marriage or her choices to stay in it but keeping up appearances of a happy marriage with a stand-up family man helped to perpetuate his phony image and bring down the guard of some of his accusers.
Perhaps she wanted to protect the façade of her marriage. Perhaps she wanted to protect her children. Perhaps she truly loves her husband and wants to support him no matter what. Perhaps, like others who have committed heinous crimes, she truly did not know what was going on sometimes in her own home—while she was there—and near her children.
Maybe she’s thinking differently now that he’s been convicted. Maybe knowing that the court of public opinion will not look kindly on her will cause her to change her story.
In that 2015 statement she said about her husband:
“He is the man you thought you knew.”
The question now for Camille Cosby: Is he the man you thought you knew?