SYLVANIA TOWNSHIP (WTOL) - The 1984 picture inside the Sylvania Township home shows a beaming Patte O’Connor sitting beside Bill Cosby in a Clemson University locker room.
O’Connor doesn’t remember any of it.
At the time, Cosby was at the peak of his popularity. He was a successful comedian, and “The Cosby Show,” which ruled the primetime airwaves for nearly a decade, premiered in September of 1984.
But the Bowling Green State University alumna believes that “America’s Dad” got her drunk, drugged her, and sexually assaulted her hours before that picture was taken.
“I was 24 years old. I was a good-old Catholic girl. I was naïve, and so, why would I think that Bill Cosby, married Bill Cosby, kids Bill Cosby … why would I think that I would be in danger or compromised?”
On the table of her Sylvania Township home sits a copy of “Chasing Cosby: The Downfall of America’s Dad,” written by Philadelphia Daily News reporter Nicole Weisensee Egan. The longtime reporter tracked down the “Jane Does” in Andrea Constand’s 2005 civil lawsuit against the comedian. O’Connor was “Jane Doe No. 6. O’Connor’s story begins on page 189 of Egan’s book.
O’Connor, who went to grad school at Bowling Green State University, was the assistant director of student activities at Clemson University in South Carolina in 1984. Her boss asked her to pick up “the Cos” at the airport and show him around before his Saturday night show.
“I introduced myself and asked him if there was anything he’d like to do. He came in at like 2, and his show was at 8, so we had the whole day,” O’Connor says. “He said, ‘Let’s go to a mom-and-pop burger place.’ We picked up some burgers, and some Cokes. A police escort dropped us off at the hotel room, and, of course, he wanted to stay there.”
O’Connor admits the connection was immediate. Though she may have been expecting him to be funny, she says he was warm and serious, and they engaged in long discussions about education and philosophy.
“You know when you meet certain people in your life and you meet them, and the first five minutes it feels like you’ve known them forever – like an old-shoe situation? That’s what he was like.”
O’Connor’s story of what happened over the next six to seven hours mirrors the stories of many of the more than 60 women who have accused Cosby of drugging them and assaulting them. The 81-year-old is currently in a Pennsylvania prison, convicted of sexual assault. Constand says Cosby drugged her before sexually assaulting her. In a 2005 deposition in Constand’s civil case, the comedian admitted obtaining Quaaludes and giving them to at least one woman. His attorney stopped him when Constand’s lawyer asked about others.
O’Connor says the first warning sign that something was amiss during her day with Cosby was when he pointed to the two single beds in the hotel room. “He said, ‘This is your bed, and this is my bed.’ I just thought that was odd,” she says. “There was a gift basket in the room with a bottle of wine, and he asked if I wanted some. I said sure. I never noticed that he wasn’t drinking.”
He kept filling her glass until the bottle was gone.
“I began to get inebriated, and didn’t even realize it. Then he started asking about my family. I said, ‘My cousin is getting married today in Toledo.’ Let’s call the reception hall,” she says.
Cosby charmed the young woman’s parents in the phone call, then he served her coffee and Kahlua. She believes it was drugged. She has no way of confirming that, and she did not file a police complaint, but several women have accused Cosby of drugging coffee. Beth Ferrier, another “Jane Doe” witness in the Constand case who claims she was assaulted, says Cosby gave her coffee before she passed out.
“After the coffee drink and phone conversation, he said, ‘I am tired. Do you want to take a nap?' Yes, I was so tired. And I was looped, stoned, whatever, so I said yes. So he said, ‘Let’s go on my bed.’ At this point we are hours into this thing. I am toast. But he’s my buddy, so I said sure.”
That’s when she says the night took a bizarre turn.
“He’s like, ‘Do you like tummy rubs or back rubs?’ I’m like, OK, that’s weird, so I said back rub … and it was just weird,” she says. Then it was his turn. Fair is fair, right? I asked him what he wanted. Of course, he says tummy rub. How do you even do a tummy rub?”
Then he kissed her, O’Connor says.
“It was like kissing your brother. It was like kissing your friend. It was like kissing your dad. It was like wrong … wrong. So immediately I said no.”
But then she blacked out and awoke hours later in a darkened room, with Cosby in the shower.
When asked if she had any doubt that Cosby sexually assaulted her, O’Connor replies: “Zero.”
She is keenly aware that many people may not believe her story, and there have already been a number of nasty online comments. People wonder why she didn’t say something earlier, why she kept the picture with Cosby. But she says she told a number of people about the experience. When her boss picked them up at the hotel to take them to the venue, she says she tried to signal to him that something was wrong.
“I was petrified. The only thing I could think to do – to communicate something was wrong, really wrong – was to reach down and grab his hand in a death grip,” she says.
According to O’Connor, her boss confronted Cosby in the locker room before the show. “He said, ‘What did you do to Patte? Why is she like this?’”
As Cosby walked by her, on the way to the stage, she says Cosby mouthed “I’m sorry.”
Seconds later, she says she heard a loud roar as the audience recognized one of the nation’s most popular entertainers
O’Connor says it never even occurred to her to report Cosby back then. In fact, she was worried that she would get fired because Cosby was late getting to the show.
“In 1984, I don’t even think the words ‘date rape’ existed. It was a different culture back then. Even if I did suspect (I had been sexually assaulted), I wouldn’t have known what to do with it. No one knew about that stuff back then,” O’Connor says.
But that all changed when Constand came out with her allegations in 2004 and 2005. Her complaints eventually led to Cosby’s conviction in 2018. The jury believed that Cosby had drugged Constand before sexually assaulting her. When O’Connor heard about the complaints in 2005, she reached out to Constand’s attorney, Dolores Troiani, leading to the Sylvania Township woman becoming Jane Doe No. 6 – something she remained until the release of Egan’s book this week.
While it would be understandable if she feels anxiety about the sudden spotlight, O’Connor says she only feels relief.
“I’m not Jane Doe No. 6. I don’t even look like Jane. I look like Patte. I am Patte. I am. I’m coming full circle. I feel good. I feel empowered. I feel empowered. I feel brave. I feel like my life is almost starting over.”