By the late 1960s, Bill Cosby was a married man well on his way to having five children, not to mention a landmark career in stand-up comedy, television and beyond.
He was also no stranger to Playboy.
Now that connection is among those coming back to him, as more and more women — at least 21, by CNN’s count — accuse him of sexual misconduct. Many of them claim the legendary comedian drugged and raped them.
Among Cosby’s accusers is Judy Huth, who recently sued Cosby alleging he sexually molested her at the Playboy Mansion when she was 15 years old. Another woman who worked as a server, or “bunny,” at a Playboy club accused Cosby of forcibly kissing her, and a former Playboy playmate alleged he drugged and raped her.
And, P.J. Masten, one of the two ex-bunnies who have publicly accused Cosby of sexual assault, told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota that there are other women who have not come forward, or will not.
“(There are) 12 former bunnies that I know of that are ashamed to come forward, frightened to come forward, married with families (and) don’t want to come forward.” Masten said. “But they were also drugged and raped by Bill Cosby.”
Cosby’s camp didn’t respond to a CNN request for comment on Masten’s allegation, though his lawyer has repeatedly and strongly denied such accusations in recent weeks. Notably, too, none of the accusers is known to have immediately gone to law enforcement, nor has Cosby been ever charged with a crime.
As to Playboy, Masten says she told her supervisor soon after she claimed Cosby had drugged and raped her at a Chicago hotel.
“She said to me, ‘You know that’s Hef’s best friend, right?'” Masten recounted, referring to Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. “I said, ‘Yes.’ She said, ‘Well, nobody is going to believe you. I suggest you keep your mouth shut.'”
The adult entertainment company didn’t immediately respond when CNN asked for their take on Masten’s accusations.
There’s been no reporting to suggest that Hefner knew anything about accusations regarding Cosby. Neither is it known if Playboy officials might have been aware of or actively tried to scuttle such claims.
Regardless, those stories are out there. And whether or not the association rubs off on Playboy, it risks further sullying the reputation of Cosby — the man behind children’s programming like “Fat Albert” and “Little Bill,” and whose eponymous No. 1 sitcom, “The Cosby Show,” cast him as a wisecracking, doting family man.
Ex-bunny: ‘I was raped’ at Chicago hotel
Open the centerfold of a Playboy magazine, and you might glimpse a “playmate” oftentimes nude and sometimes living or near Hefner’s mansion in Los Angeles.
P.J. Masten was a “bunny.” Or, in other words, she was a waitress — albeit one in 3-inch high heels, 5-inch bunny ears and a tight-fitting costume.
She was in her 20s when, in 1972, she began working at a Playboy club in northern New Jersey. Masten would end up working at similar clubs in Los Angeles and Chicago.
It was in Chicago that Cosby invited her out to lunch one afternoon, even jumping behind the counter to make hot dogs.
“Everybody was in there laughing,” Masten recalled. “It was a lot of fun.”
The comedian called the next day, asking her out to dinner and to meet her at the Whitehall Hotel. Masten went up to his room — not suspicious at all, she said — and four of Cosby’s friends were with him watching sports, smoking cigars and playing cards.
Cosby asked Masten if she wanted a cocktail before dinner, preparing a glass of Grand Marnier and ice behind her. She took it and drank it, she said.
“The next thing I knew, it was 4 o’clock in the morning,” she alleged. “I woke up in a bed naked, bruised. He was laying next to me, and I slithered out of the bed… I got myself together, I went downstairs, I got in a cab, and I went home.”
Asked by CNN’s Camerota what she think happened, Masten didn’t hesitate.
“There were bruise marks all over me,” she claimed. “I knew I was raped.”
Several other public accusers with Playboy connection
Masten said she’s been in therapy for years, trying to salve her emotional wounds. But it’s only now, about four decades later, that she’s decided to come public — feeling compelled to act after hearing about Huth.
“That was it for me,” Masten said. “This man has to be held accountable. He’s a serial rapist. He’s been that way since the ’60s.”
Huth’s story also has a Playboy connection. In her lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, she claims that Cosby met her and a 16-year-old friend when he was filming a movie in the Southern California city’s Lacy Park.
He invited them to his tennis club, serving them alcoholic beverages there, then took them to the Playboy Mansion, according to the lawsuit.
Huth claims Cosby sexually molested her after she came out of a bathroom there, alleging his actions were “malicious, oppressive and fraudulent.”
The comedian’s lawyer, Martin D. Singer, has since filed a pleading calling Huth’s claims “absolutely false” and accusing her of attempted extortion.
Another accuser, Carla Ferrigno, says she was an 18-year-old Playboy bunny when she went with a male friend to Cosby’s Beverly Hills home in 1967 and kissed her roughly after her date left the room.
Playboy playmate Victoria Valentino says a friend introduced her to Cosby hoping to help her get work on his show “I Spy” in the late 1960s. She alleges he gave her pills at dinner to “cheer up,” after which she felt “stoned” as he took her to another place.
There, Valentino said Cosby pushed himself near her mouth, before turning her around and raping her.
Asked by CNN why she didn’t speak out about the incident until recently, Valentino said, “As a playmate, I thought, who would believe me?”
Lots of talk among Playboy bunnies
Masten is convinced there are other women with ties to Playboy who have similar stories.
She said Cosby has come up at a recent reunion of Playboy bunnies, as well as in blogs and Facebook pages restricted to them.
The public allegations stirred up lots of private conversations, involving a number of women, Masten says.
“A couple of (them) private messaged me and said, ‘He did me too. It happened to me, too.'”