NBC News correspondent Kate Snow says that bringing 29 women who have accused Bill Cosby of assault together for a "Dateline NBC" special Friday took on an importance beyond the individual cases.
Snow said that many of the women who participated sensed an opportunity to educate others about the need to talk forthrightly about sexual assault.
"That was important, not just in the context of Bill Cosby but for every woman, every American," she said.
The NBC broadcast was timed to coincide with Cosby's scheduled deposition Friday in the case of a woman who accused Cosby of molesting her at the Playboy Mansion in 1974, when she was 15. NBC also was inspired by a New York magazine cover story this summer that gathered many of Cosby's accusers together for a photograph, although Snow said the network had begun working to gather the interviews before that.
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Snow said all of the women who have publicly accused Cosby were asked to participate in the interview, which was recorded in Los Angeles in late August. Twenty-seven women agreed. Snow said she interviewed four other women involved anonymously in a 2005 case against Cosby, and two of them subsequently said they would join the other women on camera.
The interview took five hours, and NBC's team had to edit it down to a one-hour special that airs at 9 p.m. EDT and PDT.
Some of the women hadn't discussed their cases before in such a public forum, Snow said. The special includes no women who had not previously made allegations against Cosby.
"They didn't know each other before, and now they are sitting in a room talking about intimate personal details about the allegations," she said. "They say there is a power in that."
While it's a challenge to interview so many people at the same time, Snow tried to use the sheer numbers to connect dots between their allegations. She asked the women for a show of hands on how many believed Cosby had raped them, had sexually assaulted them and had drugged them.
She also asked how many had reported their allegations to police at the time, or had asked for an examination with a rape kit following the encounters. No women raised their hands to that question, she said.
"I believe it's healing and it's cathartic to be able to talk to each other, to look around and be together," said one woman, Sunni Welles.
Snow said there were several attempts to get Cosby or his representatives to appear on "The Cosby Accusers Speak," to be broadcast on the network where the comic had his greatest success during the 1980s. They were all declined. A Cosby representative, Monique Pressley, declined to comment to The Associated Press about the NBC show.