From the time I was a toddler I was subjected to physical, psychological abuse and neglect. My father was a big strapping advanced alcoholic with blood sugar issues and my mother was a prescription and over the counter drug addict.

I quickly learned where to run and hide where no one could find me. When I turned 12, the attempted sexual assaults began. I learned how to fight a falling down drunk,  diffuse the rage and run, even in the dead of winter.

Back then, teachers and the school nurse saw all the signs, but no one could say anything. I was totally alone with a terrifying secret, afraid to come home.

I was given a huge gift. Acting came naturally to me and I was putting on shows from 2nd grade on. I would rather be anyone but me, if only for a few minutes. The teachers were so impressed they contacted my mother, but she had no interest and only threatened me constantly not to tell about what went on at home. That only pushed me more and more into wanting to be anyone on stage making people happy, truly living a fantasy and not living my real life.

I soon realized my escape was education and as a straight A student, all the teachers were so kind and supportive, even made me the lunch cashier so I would have something to eat.. But I learned early how to put a big wall around me with super sensitive red flags, always on alert. I graduated with 3 scholarships, 2 financial and 1 academic to Colorado University with financial aid from my uncle and carried 18 hours, always scared of losing my scholarships if my grades went below a 3.5. I soon developed ulcers and anxiety attacks and endless harassment from my mother that I was not home taking care of her. She was infuriated as her brother should be taking care of her, not me and I was forbidden to talk to him. He would have been my perfect mentor, as there was no one else.

I had to take the bus every Friday after my last class from Boulder to Denver, where I worked a double shift every weekend at KIMN RADIO, DENVER 95, answering requests, doing some weather and an occasional voice over or commercial.

KIMN sponsored many concerts and events and I almost died of excitement when Bill Cosby was coming to perform. He was my Fantasy Father Figure and I was also so proud that he had managed to break through the color barrier of a leading man on TV. I could barely contain myself counting the days. I ended up cutting class early which I never ever did and took the bus and walked to the radio station. We all went down together  to get the auditorium all ready. I must have checked his dressing room 10 times. I even went outside to see if I could find some flowers for his make- up area. I was in Cosby’s dressing room when in he walked with two white hookers hanging on him, with him openly and roughly groping them. I certainly do understand the expression Feeling Frozen. Cosby looked at me arrogantly and condescendingly and I turned and left.

As I found my way to a back row of seats and stumbled into one, my eyes brimming with tears, I felt as if my very own loving father had died in front of me. I don’t remember the show, but I was laughing at his brilliance and crying for the loss of a father. I fell into a deep depression and my aunt asked me if I was pregnant. I hadn’t even had my first kiss.

The next year he performed in Denver again, This time at the Red Rocks Amphitheater. Once again it was our job to set the stage and have everything ready as requested. I dreaded every moment and was going to be in and out of his dressing room in a shot. Much to my horror there he sat, by himself. Cosby was smiling and charming and asked me if we had met before, I looked familiar. You look like a young filly with those gorgeous long legs and beautiful face. You must have an interest in getting into the business or you wouldn’t be here. Why don’t you meet me here after the show and I can help you? I can open all the doors for you. For a split second, I thought this might be my one and only Big Chance. But after what I had seen before, my red flags were flashing and I had that huge OH Oh feeling in the pit of my stomach. I said No Thank You Sir and stumbled out of the room. He gave his Fat Albert laugh and said, You’ll be back. They all do eventually. The performance was about the birth of his child, his first, I think and how he ran down to hug his car for reassurance. By this time, I was disgusted and felt Cosby was a womanizer. I could feel it. Who do you tell and why? Who would believe me anyway? That I threw away the chance of a life time by not accepting help from the father figure of show biz?

About this time, my mother told me I would have to drop out of school to take care of her or she would end up in a mental institution and there was no more money offered to help pay for school. I was devastated. I had just auditioned for the lead role in Italian Straw Hat and nailed it. Turned out I found out later it was all a lie. She was jealous of my success.

I packed up and left school without a word and went to work the graveyard shift at The House of Pancakes. My parents had decided to get divorced while I was graduating from high school, so I would come home from work at 7 am, to find the door locked, different men in the bedroom and condoms laying around.

I had an opportunity for a modeling job in Chicago. I took it and never looked back. At the time, Chicago was a huge catalog print and TV infomercial city and I worked like crazy. As much as it still breaks my heart, I decided right then and there, I would never try New York or Hollywood, after what I witnessed in a small city like Denver.

I was doing so well, I signed with the PLAYBOY AGENCY and booked a lot with them. One of the requirements was that every 6 weeks you had to hostess a party at the Hugh Hefner Mansion. Cosby practically lived there. Every time I got the agent’s call, I was sick. She said you sure get sick a lot and I said every time you want me to go to Hefner’s I do. Everyone knows what goes on there. She said Just say NO.

The reason I did not make it big was because I did not have the massive ego, the constant ME ME ME and very little self confidence or self esteem. I didn’t do the parties, I didn’t smoosh, I didn’t drink or do any drugs. I always had an actor’s handbook in my hand, took acting seminars on the weekends from famous casting directors when I could afford it, but I wanted my work to speak for me. I wanted to be a Meryl Streep or a Glenn Close, not a sexy, blonde airhead actor. Someone respected for their artistic abilities and ethics That just doesn’t work with thousands of talented wannabees out there trying to break into show biz. You have to be willing to do just about anything to get noticed by the right casting director, agent or director.

This was the time of macrobiotics, the brown rice diet, vegans, hippies. I was too scared to get in a situation where I WOULD BE FORCED TO DO SOMETHING THAT WOULD PROBABLY CAUSE A COMPLETE NERVOUS BREAK DOWN. So I was happy with all the auditions I landed without having to compromise my old fashioned morals.

The Cosby Hefner stories we heard about horrified me. It was the time of Free Love, so lots of girls thought nothing about the orgies and all the rest.

The strangest part, when asked how it was, was that no one could remember, thought they were too drunk or stoned. Creepy. Then there were the Celebrity Groupie model Wannabees who kept score of how many stars they had sex with. My poor brain could not process that.

Had I been forced to take my Hefner hostess assignment, Cosby would have picked right up on my innocence. If he had offered me a herbal lozenge, I would have been so grateful for something to calm my nerves.

I was one of the lucky ones

Were there 60 victims of Sexual Assaults?

Were there dozens???

I have no doubt in my mind that there were hundreds.

Why did she contradict her facts in police reports and on the stand? Have you ever been assaulted? Victimized? Do we do stupid things and mix up timelines ourselves in the midst of long term panic, anxiety attacks, depression? Facts and night terrors get scrambled so badly we cannot honestly recall what is totally true or a compilation of events.

Do you have any idea how hard this was to dredge up after all these years? Do I remember dates, order of events, details? My mind won’t let me, but it sits and festers for years somewhere back in that dark closet in our brain..

I waited until my daughter was 20 years old and she was watching a Cosby re-run. When I told her what almost happened to me, she called me a Liar, ranted and swore at me. After the shock of that wore off a bit, I realized, that NO ONE COULD POSSIBLY COME FORWARD or try to file charges. My own daughter didn’t even believe me.

So yes, I wish every single woman could come forward with their Cosby encounters and stage a rally at the next trial.


Penny Leigh

Roatan, Bay Islands  Honduras

786 269 0819


[email protected].