When William and Judy Thompson met comedian Bill Cosby in the late 1980s to discuss their teen daughter's modeling and acting career, they felt immediately at ease.
Cosby and William Thompson both belonged to black fraternities in college. They both had lived in the Washington, D.C.-Maryland area. Both were born in July and both went by Bill as a first name.
Cosby reassured the Thompsons that their then-17-year-old daughter, Jennifer, would be fine living in an apartment with other models as she launched her career. He promised to help the teen, they said.
"We thought we were talking to Dr. Huxtable," said William Thompson, referring to the comedian's TV persona in the hit series "The Cosby Show."
Jennifer Thompson now says she fended off unwanted sexual advances from Cosby and once performed a sex act on the comedian. He then gave her $700. That encounter – their final – clouded Jennifer Thompson's next two decades.
"It basically shattered my faith so that anything that used to look promising to me, I saw it through a different lens," she said.
Thompson, now 44, and her parents recently spoke to The Associated Press about the encounters with Cosby. They also revealed that three weeks ago, Judy Thompson sent a letter to Cosby's wife, Camille.
"Mother to mother," said Judy Thompson. "This letter was written from my heart."
More than 20 women have stepped forward in recent months to level various accusations against Cosby, ranging from unwanted advances to sexual assault and rape. Additionally, Cosby is being sued by three women for defamation and by another woman who says he molested her when she was 15.
Cosby, 77, has not been charged with any crime, and neither Cosby's lawyer nor his spokesman returned calls seeking comment. Cosby's lawyer, Martin Singer, previously has denied some of the allegations and made no comment on others.
‘Who is the victim?’
Judy Thompson said she was inspired to pen the letter after she read Camille Cosby's statement issued in December suggesting that her husband, not the women, is the party being harmed by the women's allegations.
"None of us will ever want to be in the position of attacking a victim," Camille Cosby said. "But the question should be asked: Who is the victim?"
Judy Thompson bristled when she read Cosby's words. She said she watched her daughter go from a sparkling, ambitious teen to a woman “with an inner light extinguished.”
Only recently has Jennifer Thompson emerged from under "the dark cloud," said Judy Thompson, who included a Psalms prayer in the letter.
"Your husband crossed boundaries that never should have been breached," she wrote to Camille Cosby. "He shattered her innocence."
Judy Thompson said she prays daily for the Cosby family and ended the letter by writing, "May you and Bill speak the truth and be afforded peace for your souls."
It could not be determined whether Camille Cosby received the letter.
Judy Thompson said that it was difficult to find anyone, even a therapist, who would believe her daughter's story. She didn't go to police.
“To be so hurt and violated, and then not be believed! Resolution has not been easily forthcoming. We all remained in the shadows of your husband's sick behavior,” she wrote.
Jennifer Thompson was one 13 so-called "Jane Does" in a 2005 civil suit that was brought by a woman named Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee who claimed Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in 2004.
Constand later settled out of court and Thompson and the other women did not testify in the case.
Cosby’s video message
Cosby on Monday released a new video message, his first in months. He doesn't discuss the allegations and in the short video, promoted his weekend show in Wheeling, West Virginia, the next stop in Cosby's stand-up comedy tour. More than a dozen shows have been canceled since the most recent round of allegations arose in November.
"You know I'll be hilarious," Cosby said in the video. "Can't wait."
He also added a note to the video, which read: "Dear fans, I hope you enjoy my wonderful video message that's filled with laughter…. Hey, hey, hey, I'm far from finished.''