*A Florida nurse is one of two new women to come forward in the past 24 hours to publicly claim that they were sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby.
Therese Serignese, a 57-year-old registered nurse from Boca Raton, Florida, told her account to The Huffington Post, 38 years after she says she was raped by the veteran actor and comedian.
Serignese says she first encountered Cosby in 1976, when she was 19 and he was headlining a show at the Las Vegas Hilton (now the LVH). (In Mark Whitaker’s September 2014 biography of Cosby, Cosby: His Life and Times, he writes that the comedian “returned to the Hilton year after year” during the 1970s, sometimes up to four times a year.)
During a chance encounter at the Hilton gift shop, where Serignese says she was looking at jewelry with her sister, she says that Cosby invited her to see his show. “Somebody came up to me and put their arm around my neck from the back and said: ‘Will you marry me?'” Serignese told HuffPost over the phone. “And I turned around to see who it was, and it was Bill Cosby.”
After the show she claims she was escorted back to the green room by one of Cosby’s people, where she waited around until everyone else had left. Once they were alone together, she says that Cosby held out two white pills and a glass of water, saying, “Here, take these.” She did.
“The next memory I have was I was in a bathroom and I was kind of bending forward and he was behind me having sex with me,” she said. “I was just there, thinking ‘I’m on drugs, I’m drugged.’ I felt drugged and I was being raped and it was kind of surreal. My frame of mind was that it would be over soon and I could just get out of there.”
Serignese says that her mother encouraged her to call Cosby after she confided in her about the assault, saying, “Well, maybe he’ll take care of you.” She claims that she did call him, and that Cosby put her up in her own room in the penthouse of the Hilton for about three weeks, until he kicked her out after she had a pregnancy scare. She claims that she continued to have intermittent contact with Cosby over the next 20 years, including at least one subsequent sexual encounter around 1985. She also accepted two payments from him in 1996 after she sustained serious injuries in a car accident, including a $5,000 check from his agent, but she never came forward publicly about the assault for fear that no one would believe her.
“I just tried to forget it. I tried to block it out,” she said over the phone. “It doesn’t go away but you can make it silent. You can bury it. But all of these times when this stuff comes up, it does make me angry.”
That anger finally boiled over into action when Serignese heard about Constand’s 2005 lawsuit against Cosby. After hearing about the suit, she says, she called the Philadelphia police department to tell her story, and became one of the anonymous Jane Does set to testify for the prosecution. (Thirteen women in total were set to be witnesses before the case was settled out of court.)
Bill Cosby’s camp did not respond to a request for comment.
Watch Serignese’s interview below:
An eighth woman, Carla Ferrigno (the wife of “Incredible Hulk” star Lou Ferrigno) also stepped forward on Nov. 19 with claims against Cosby.
She says Cosby tried to sexually assault her at a party in 1967.
In an interview for the John and Ken Show on LA talk radio station KFI AM 640, Carla says Cosby lunged at her and forcefully kissed her at a party when she was just a teenager – and his wife, Camille, was home.
Speaking with MailOnline after the interview, she said, “I feel so bad for these women. I was the lucky one.” She added, “I mean ‘lucky’ in that he didn’t harm me. It harmed me emotionally all my life but he didn’t physically harm me.”
Carla would go on to marry Lou Ferrigno in 1980, and said she did not even share this story with him until five years ago.
Below, a timeline of accusations against Cosby via HuffPo:
In 2005, Andrea Constand, the former director of operations for the Temple University women’s basketball team, filed a lawsuit against Cosby, alleging that he had drugged and molested her a year prior.
Shortly after, Tamara Green came forward on the “Today Show” claiming that she’d had a similar encounter with Cosby in the ’70s. Twelve other anonymous women agreed to be witnesses in Constand’s case, including Beth Ferrier who was identified that June, but the case was settled out of court in November 2005.
In 2006, Barbara Bowman identified herself as one of those 12 women, telling her story to People Magazine. Serignese says she was another of those 12 anonymous witnesses — Jane Doe #10.
For many years, the court of public opinion remained solidly on Cosby’s side. An authorized biography of the comedian — which left out the sexual assault allegations — came out this September, Netflix had announced a Cosby special it was planning to air at the end of November, and NBC had a new show in the works with Cosby set to star. (The latter two have since been postponed or canceled.) Then in October, comedian Hannibal Burress decided to call out Cosby for being an alleged rapist during his comedy set. The clip went viral, and suddenly people were listening.
On Nov. 16, days after Cosby declined to respond to the allegations during an interview with NPR’s Scott Simon, Hollywood Elsewhere published Joan Tarshis’ account of her experiences with Cosby. The former actress claimed that he had drugged and raped her in 1969.
On Nov. 18, former supermodel Janice Dickinson came forward in an interview with “Entertainment Tonight,” alleging that Cosby had drugged and assaulted her in 1982.