A woman who grew up in Minneapolis and appeared in two TV episodes with Bill Cosby is among the newest accusers in the allegations of sexual misconduct by the once-revered comedian.
With celebrity attorney Gloria Allred at their side, Eden Tirl and fellow accusers Colleen Hughes and Linda Ridgeway Whitedeer spelled out at a Los Angeles news conference their own encounters with Cosby, whose accusers dating back decades number several dozen.
Tirl, 49, who grew up in south Minneapolis and attended public grade school before graduating from DeLaSalle High School in 1984, was in the midst of shooting two episodes of “The Cosby Show” in 1989 when time alone in Cosby’s dressing room quickly turned into what she contends was sexual harassment.
Cosby “closed the door behind him … and locked it,” she told reporters Wednesday. “There was a palpable shift of power. I lost my breath.”
After chatting for about 30 minutes, Tirl continued, she said she tried to keep the atmosphere light by saying, “Bill, you are Jell-O Pudding Pops and Fat Albert to me. You are my childhood.”
Cosby “barked back instantly, ‘Don’t say that; they all say that!’ ” Tirl recalled, choking back her emotions as she recounted the exchange.
At one point, “we were face to face,” Tirl continued. “He asked me to turn around. … So I turned around. I felt him step toward me and put his hands over the backs of my hands. He began to move our hands together like an exercise that many actors know as the mirror exercise.
“I played along and made sure that his lower body stayed away from my bottom. When he was finished with this, he then pulled me into him, grabbed both our arms around me like lovers would and whispered in my ear, ‘See, this was all that we were going to do: Make love. This is making love.’ He turned me around, hugged me and left without saying a word.”
In an interview Thursday with the Star Tribune, Tirl said she wishes she would have mentioned during the news conference “all the phone calls to my house [by Cosby] that were inappropriate … jumping into my car and trying to get me to come home with him.”
She said she has coped with the humiliation of the encounter by sharing what happened with her closest friends and knowing “I’m a good strong Minnesota girl. I knew I could handle it.”
Tirl moved to Hollywood four days after graduating from high school and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Along with collecting acting credits under her birth name Eden Svendahl, she was a model and now is a writer and executive editor of Notably Smitten, a website where she guides people on how to shop in support of companies and individuals committed to helping others with compassion. Her parents and a brother, a firefighter, still live in the Twin Cities.
Ridgeway Whitedeer said Cosby forced her into a sex act in 1971 when she met him for an interview on a movie set. Hughes, a former American Airlines flight attendant, said she encountered Cosby on a flight to Los Angeles in the early 1970s, and he accompanied her to her hotel. She said she lost consciousness for a few hours after drinking champagne with the comedian and confronted him about the incident a year later.
Cosby is expected to give sworn testimony in October in a lawsuit from a woman accusing the comedian of sexually abusing her when she was 15. Judy Huth claims Cosby abused her after bringing her to the Playboy Mansion around 1974. Cosby’s lawyers have called the lawsuit an extortion attempt.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482