Nicki Weisensee Egan has covered the Bill Cosby sex scandal since the first victim filed her lawsuit in 2005. Over the past 15 years, Nicki was one of the only journalists to consistently ask the tough questions without giving Cosby the benefit of the doubt. She recently chronicled her journey in her book, Chasing Cosby: The Downfall of America’s Dad and a new podcast, Chasing Cosby.
Nicki’s 15-Year Coverage of the Cosby Sex Scandal
Nicki was an investigative writer at the Philadelphia Daily News when the Director of Operations for the Temple University basketball team, Andrea Constand, filed a lawsuit against Cosby in January 2005. As a Temple Graduate and longtime supporter of the university, Cosby met Andrea in the early 2000s and offered to be her mentor. A few years into their relationship, he drugged and sexually assaulted her.
Soon after, a second woman, Tamara Green, disclosed her disturbing story about Cosby sexually assaulting her in the 1970s. Over ten additional women came forward with similar allegations later that year. Combined, their stories reveal a terrifyingly similar pattern: Cosby would befriend young and aspiring women, gain their trust, and then drug and sexually assault them before abandoning them.
However, the media and public refused to believe the allegations against Cosby. Nicki was one of the few journalists to take the allegations and Bill Cosby scandal seriously. And she was ridiculed for it.
Later, the District Attorney assigned to the case decided not to press charges–even though Cosby admitted to drugging women for sex during a sealed deposition.
Cosby was in the clear for several years until a 2014 video of standup comedian Hannibel Burress bringing up Cosby’s allegations brought the issue back into the public eye. Soon after, authorities released Cosby’s sealed deposition record from 2005. A new District Attorney later charged Cosby in 2015.
Cosby is believed to have sexually assaulted at least 60 women since the 1960s. The actual number of victims is likely much higher. How did he get away with this for so many years? Nicki believes that Cosby’s influence over the media and Hollywood elites allowed him to silence his victims with bribes and threats. In fact, Cosby’s sexual assaults were an “open secret” in Hollywood. But they let him get away with his actions.
After the 2014 Burress video, Cosby’s supporters in Hollywood and in the media began to turn on him. The public, which never wanted to believe that America’s Dad could have done these things, also began to acknowledge the awful truth. Today, Cosby is disgraced and his name is forever tainted. Even several members of his family, once his staunchest defenders, were noticeably absent during the trials. He receives few visitors in prison.
Cosby, now 82, denies any wrongdoing and continues to file appeals. His refusal to admit his actions makes it unlikely he will make parole before his 10-year sentence ends in 2028.
Voice As a Powerful Mode of Communication
Nicki chronicled her experience covering the Cosby allegations in her 2019 book Chasing Cosby: The Downfall of America’s Dad. Soon after publication, she began a six-episode podcast series as a companion piece to the book.
In the Chasing Cosby podcast, Nicki interviews several Cosby victims, giving them the opportunity to tell their stories. Mary Payne and Nicki note how powerful and emotional it is to hear the victims’ voices.
Nicki is hosting a live discussion with Andrea Constand in Los Angeles, CA on February 26, 2020. This discussion will be featured as a bonus episode in the Chasing Cosby podcast series. Stay tuned!
Find Nicki at https://www.nicoleweisenseeegan.com