The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: In Support of Bill Cosby


Bill Cosby     Todd Williamson/Invision/AP

If the women who have come out of the woodwork with claims of rape against entertainment icon Bill Cosby were trying to derail his comeback, they are gaining momentum. Cosby’s Netflix comedy special has been postponed indefinitely. And NBC’s plans to create a sit-com with Cosby have been canceled for now. I guess the network, which depends on advertisers, decided to bow out before they were forced to. But subscriber income is how Netflix pays its bills: The streaming video service gets paid regardless, which makes it hard for me to understand why these two power house production companies would allow unsubstantiated claims against someone with a proven track record to determine how they operate.
The line of women in this campaign against Cosby is getting longer. Most people are thinking ‘If so many women are claiming it, it must be true.’ I don’t agree. As a woman, it is not my intention to dismiss another woman’s feelings of mistreatment or abuse. But my most pressing questions about these allegations are: Why didn’t these women – all of them of age when they claim their assaults occurred – file charges at the time? Why wait thirty years later, when there’s no evidence to support your claims?
Some of these allegations never were made public until now. A few were made public then, but never have been proven and Cosby never was charged. Still, that hasn’t stopped his accusers from giving TV interviews and writing newspaper editorials. I’m not sure why the powers-that-be feel it’s news-worthy to turn old news into headlines, especially since there’s no new evidence or new charges. It’s next to impossible to get mainstream media to give two minutes worth of coverage to women and children of a certain economic status who go missing everyday. But somehow these women – who essentially are guilty of slander right now – have convinced somebody with power that their stories are worthy of our attention.
Cosby has refused to comment about any possible rape investigation, except through his attorney who said Cosby is not guilty of the allegations. But in light of so many women who feel it’s their duty to tell the world about their alleged bad experience, I feel obligated to tell you about my good experience with Bill Cosby. Maybe if I start it off others who have had good encounters and those whom he has helped in the entertainment industry will line up in his defense.
I met Mr. Cosby in early 2014. I’m a flight attendant and he was a passenger on my flight from Hartford, Connecticut to Dallas. As many celebrities do, Cosby asked to board the flight ahead of other passengers so he could have extra time to get settled in his seat. My flight crew agreed he could. A TSA agent escorted Cosby to the plane, because he was traveling alone. He didn’t even have a body-guard with him. Most celebrities of his caliber never travel by themselves. But there he was, no assistant in sight.
From the moment he stepped on board, Mr. Cosby was full of personality. He offered to take pictures with the pilots and us flight attendants, even before we asked him. And when I asked Cosby if his wife was traveling with him (because I was so amazed that he was traveling alone) he said “Yes, she’s in my carry-on luggage in the overhead bin!” The jokes flowed off his tongue like water from a faucet. I’ve had other celebrities to board early on other flights before, and most of them are pleasant. But none of them took the time to laugh and talk with me as Mr. Cosby did.
I asked him where he was headed. He said he was on his way to Lubbock, Texas by way of Dallas to speak to a group of teens about the importance of a good education, goal-setting and having a life plan. He and I were alone and engaged in conversation for at least twenty minutes. But as soon as other passengers started to board I had to turn my attention to them and my other duties.
At some point during the boarding process Mr. Cosby started to fall asleep in his seat. Most first-class passengers didn’t know the man sitting among them was the entertainment icon, because he wasn’t trying to hog the spotlight or be noticed. At that point he wanted to sleep. It wasn’t until I asked if he wanted me to wake him for his meal did any of the other passengers seem to take notice of who he was. He didn’t drink or eat anything. He slept the entire flight. He didn’t try to hem me up in the galley for a private conversation or close contact. Some passengers do that. But not Bill Cosby. And after he woke up towards the end of the flight he told me “this was the best first class service I’ve ever had,” even though he slept through it all. But it put a smile on my face, nonetheless.
In between my flight duties I took time to hand-write Mr. Cosby a letter. In it I thanked him for the pictures, for his work to promote family values and his efforts to inspire the next generation. Also, I invited him to be a paid participant in upcoming events my private company produces for aspiring comedians and entertainers. Yes, I gave Bill Cosby my personal contact information for business purposes.
“I wrote you a letter, Mr. Cosby,” I told him, and I passed it to him as he left the flight.
A week or so later I received an email from someone on behalf of Cosby. In essence, the email said Cosby had read my letter and wanted to respond to my request for his participation in our events. Although he was unavailable to participate at the time, the email stated he would keep my request on file.
I felt honored that The Bill Cosby would take time out of his schedule to read a hand written letter from a stranger and then have his people respond to me. He didn’t use my personal contact information for anything other than what I had intended. It was proof for me that he is the genuine, trustworthy person I always thought him to be.
I’m sure there are others – women and men – who have nothing but positive things to say about their experiences with Bill Cosby. Maybe some of the young actors he mentored in their careers should speak up on his behalf. Surely mainstream media outlets will do for us what they have done for the unsubstantiated accusers: Let the world know we stand up in support of Bill Cosby.

Steffanie Rivers

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