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Cosby says he bought silence after affair

July 15, 1997
Web posted at: 8:24 p.m. EDT (0024 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Actor Bill Cosby, one of television's most popular father figures, testified Tuesday he paid $100,000 over 20 years to keep an extramarital affair a secret.

He said the money was paid to Autumn Jackson's mother, Shawn Upshaw, because she threatened to go public. Cosby said he also paid for Jackson's schooling and gave her a car.

Jackson, 22, is on trial for allegedly trying to extort $40 million from the entertainer by threatening to go to The Globe tabloid with her story. She contends she is Cosby's illegitimate daughter.

But Cosby denies it.

"I will be for you a father figure, but I am not your father," Cosby said he told Jackson. Cosby testified he had a brief affair with Jackson's mother in the mid-1970s.

He admitted under cross-examination, however, that he canceled a paternity test he was going to take, because he feared the media would discover it and damage his reputation.

Cosby was hugely popular as the father of a prosperous family in the top-rated TV show of the 1980s -- "The Cosby Show" -- and wrote the best-selling book "Fatherhood."

The comedian testified he finally asked his attorneys this year to contact the FBI about Jackson's alleged extortion attempt, after she began notifying his product-endorsement clients of her claims.

'This was a threat'


"This was a threat being carried out -- $40 million for 22 years," Cosby said. "I've watched these people, paying them, answering their wants and needs. This was a real threat, and I wanted her mother to know what she was doing."

Cosby testified he had an affair with Upshaw in 1974, and recalled having sex with her "once." He said that after paying her $40,000 a year, he set up a trust fund for her.

Cosby, who has been married 33 years, said he told his wife Camille about the affair 17 years ago. He admitted he initiated the relationship with Upshaw, whom he met in a Los Angeles hotel.

'I asked her to dance'

"I asked her to dance and we did. Then I asked for her phone number and wanted to see her," he said. A few years later, Cosby said, he contacted Upshaw again and asked her to meet him in Las Vegas.

"We were sitting in a living room on the 30th floor of the Hilton Hotel," he said, "We were talking. It was the daytime and Shawn showed me a picture of a child."

He said she told him, "This is your daughter."

Cosby said he responded, "That's not my daughter."

He said he promised to pay for the college education of all three of Upshaw's children, as he had done for more than 300 other children over the years. Cosby said Jackson always addressed him as "Mr. Cosby" and he always called her Autumn.

Relationship changed

But he said the relationship changed when he learned that Jackson had dropped out of school. In December, he said, he ignored two phone messages from her. Then he got a message from an "Autumn Cosby."

He called her back. "As far as I was concerned, she was making some sort of threat," he said.

After she told him she was homeless and $2,100 in debt, he promised to send her $3,000 and renewed the offer to pay for her education. When he asked her why she used his last name, she denied it and said, "I didn't say anything about you."

"Well, don't tell people," Cosby recalled telling her.

Jackson and co-defendant Jose Medina, of Bethesda, Ohio, were arrested in January in New York, where prosecutors say they had flown from Los Angeles to try to collect money from Cosby.

The arrests came two days after Cosby's only son Ennis was slain while changing a tire along a Los Angeles highway.


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