NY Daily News, Nov 2017

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How Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby’s behavior fits the description of a serial sexual predator

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Actress Lili Bernard (c.) joined by her lawyer Attorney Gloria Allred (l.) and fellow rape victim writer Sammie Mays, who were allegedly drugged and victimized by Bill Cosby.


When Lili Bernard heard the recording of Harvey Weinstein, it stopped her cold.The actress who claims Bill Cosby raped her in the early 1990s was reading the recent New Yorker exposé on Weinstein and clicked on the audio of his bullying hallway encounter with Filipina-Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez.“You must come here now,” Weinstein demanded as Battilana Gutierrez resisted entering his private room at the Tribeca Grand Hotel in 2015.“Don’t embarrass me in the hotel, I’m here all the time,” he barked.

“Five minutes. Don’t ruin your friendship with me for five minutes,” he warned, unaware Battilana Gutierrez had already gone to police and was wearing a wire.

“You could hear the coercion, the intimidation,” Bernard told the Daily News. “It was in parallel to what I experienced with Cosby.”

Bernard is one of dozens of women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault. She said the actor drugged and attacked her three times, including a rape at the Las Vegas Hilton in the fall of 1990.

“When I screamed no, he pushed a pillow in my face. I thought I would die of suffocation,” she told The News.

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“I remember his fingers against my mouth and on my teeth,” she recalled. “He kept saying, ‘Shut up Bernard. Shut up.’ ”

Bernard said she and other Cosby “survivors” have been watching Weinstein’s downfall unfold with a sickening sense of déjà vu.

Another celebrated and powerful man allegedly preying on scores of vulnerable young women just starting their careers. Another spiraling scandal with alleged misconduct stretching back decades.

Experts reached by The News declined to diagnose either man as a serial sex predator. But they said serial rapists in positions of power often share many of the same characteristics, including arrogance, aggression, feelings of entitlement and a cult-like following that insulates and encourages them.

“These are the patterns of those who think they are god-like. They tend to be quite grandiose and have that degree of intense self-worship,” forensic psychiatrist Dr. Harold Bursztajn, co-founder of Harvard University’s program in psychiatry and the law, told The News.

He said often, such serial predators are seeking validation for “a fundamental defect they feel,” and “no matter how much they accomplish, the validation is not there.”

“These people are bottomless pits,” he said.

Weinstein was caught on a recording harassing Ambra Battilana Gutierrez.

Weinstein was caught on a recording harassing Ambra Battilana Gutierrez. (SAM COSTANZA/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

“Ultimately what we’re describing is aggression. It’s not about sex, it’s about aggression and making someone else feel helpless,” he said. “Sex is a mask for the perpetrator. What’s underneath it is a meanness, an aggression, a self-glorification.”

He said whether the abuser is a movie mogul, a priest or any other influential figure, their power often leads others to turn a blind eye, thereby enabling their conduct and impunity.

“If they’re part of an institution that tends to overlook (their abuse), they feel supported. They think, ‘Since no one on the movie set said anything about it, it must be OK.’ There’s a normalization,” Dr. Bursztajn said.

Weinstein, 65, now stands accused of sexual harassment by dozens of women — and of sexual assault or rape by a growing list that includes actresses Rose McGowan, Annabella Sciorra, Paz de la Huerta, Asia Argento, Lysette Anthony, Dominique Huett and Natassia Malthe.

NYPD officials said Friday they have a strong case against Weinstein involving rape allegations waged by de la Huerta. She told police Weinstein raped her twice in her apartment in 2010.

“We have an actual case,” Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said.

Weinstein has denied forcing nonconsensual sex on anyone. In addition to the NYPD probe, he is under criminal investigation in London, Los Angeles and Beverly Hills.

Actress Lili Bernard (right) was allegedly drugged and victimized by actor Bill Cosby. She's pictured here with Cosby on an episode of The Cosby Show.

Actress Lili Bernard (right) was allegedly drugged and victimized by actor Bill Cosby. She’s pictured here with Cosby on an episode of The Cosby Show. (NBC)

Cosby, 80, stood trial for aggravated sexual assault over the summer.

Prosecutors allege he drugged and sexually assaulted Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004. Jurors failed to reach a verdict, and he’s expected to face a second trial next year.

Retired FBI profiler Dr. Mary Ellen O’Toole said another factor behind the long careers of some high-profile predators is something she’s dubbed “icon intimidation.”

She said when admired, iconic people such as celebrities, priests and coaches prey on vulnerable people, their victims often second guess whether any abuse actually took place at all or whether anyone would believe them if they reported it.

“Victims are often stunned that someone like a Catholic priest would abuse them. They begin to question themselves, ‘Was it something I did?’ ” she said.

Meanwhile, “with serial offenders, the more they do it, the more they learn how to do it better,” she said

She said luring victims to hotel rooms under false pretenses, offering them social beverages and following up with them afterward become powerful tactics in the hands of a practiced predator.

Cosby, 80, stood trial for aggravated sexual assault over the summer. (TRACIE VAN AUKEN/EPA)

“You surround yourself with normal, gracious, socially acceptable behavior, then boom, you insert the criminal behavior, and it takes the victim off guard,” she said. “Then later, when the victim considers reporting, there are levels of, ‘Well, you kind of went along with it.’ ”

Bernard said she experienced icon intimidation firsthand with Cosby.

“He was my mentor. He wasn’t just America’s Dad, he was a personal father figure to me,” she said.

She recalled confronting Cosby over his alleged abuse leading up to her guest role on “The Cosby Show” and his alleged threat to “erase” her if she went to police.

“He was so powerful, with his façade of phony wholesomeness and philanthropy. I knew I’d be going up against an iconic, revered, respected figure. Who’s going to believe you?” she asked. “I was also an actor and wanted to continue to act.”

Bernard said she’s detected a more hospitable environment lately for the victims speaking up against Weinstein and others, and she hopes it continues.

She also hopes more witnesses and bystanders find the courage to step forward and help stop the cycles of abuse.

“Men need to speak out too,” she said. “It can’t be just women speaking up. Bystanders could play a really important role to shift this whole rape culture.”