The former Cosby Show actress who protested topless at the comedian’s trial this week says she looked up to him when they worked together and was shocked when she learned of the accusations against him.
Nicolle Rochelle, the topless protester described Cosby as a ‘father figure’ to her, during her stint on the show from 1990 to 1992.
‘Just like anyone else, he was the ‘father figure,”’ the 39-year-old Brown University graduate told ABC News. ‘He gave me advice about my career, my life. He was funny and he made jokes. He seemed like a nice guy. So I had nothing against him in particular. I had a good time.’
But her opinion of the actor changed about three years ago, when the first of many women came forward to publicly accuse Cosby of sexual assault.
‘I felt angry… and I felt sad for everyone involved,’ Rochelle said. ‘I felt slightly betrayed.’
Rochelle said she couldn’t ignore the accusations, due to the sheer amount of women who came forward, now at 58.
‘For me, it was also a matter of a numbers game,’ Rochelle said. ‘For me it was very logical to believe the victims. Doing the research, it’s only five to 10 per cent of rape victims that ever lie. How is that possible that all the women are lying? It actually isn’t possible.’
Several months ago, Rochelle the topless protester decided to take action, and started planning a protest with an international feminist group called Femen, which she got involved in while living and working as an actress in France.
‘Protesting Bill Cosby was important for us because he is a man who has been disempowering women’s bodies for decades and in being naked. … I was symbolically taking back the ownership of all the victims’ bodies and redefining it as a political tool as opposed to a sexual object,’ Rochelle said.
On Monday, she had a friend paint her body and then got to the courthouse early, where she was greeted by a surprisingly small crowd.
‘I wanted to arrive there and assess the situation,’ she said. ‘And I got there … and actually I was surprised at the lack of the amount of people. I thought there’d be more people.’
When Cosby arrived at the Norristown courthouse, Rochelle stripped off her leather jacket and humped over the barrier. She charged at Cosby, but was tackled to the ground by cops who arrested her and charged her with disorderly conduct.
All the while, Cosby, who claims to be blind, laughed.
‘The goal was not to attack Cosby in any way or to physically touch him, but I wanted to get slightly close to him so that he could hear the message and be uncomfortable with the truth of that message,’ Rochelle said.
Rochelle was warned not to return to court.
During her two years on the Cosby Show, Rochelle played Danielle, a friend of Rudy Huxtable (played by Keshia Knight Pulliam).
Pulliam had been by Cosby’s side for the first day of his trial the last time he was tried, but was not present for the opening statements of his retrial on Monday.
He is currently on trial for drugging and sexually assaulting a former Temple University women’s basketball official in 2004. He says the encounter was consensual.
This is his second trial for the alleged assault, after a deadlocked jury caused a mistrial during the first trial last June.