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Cosby admits to ‘rendezvous’ with mother of suspected extortionist

January 28, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ Bill Cosby had an affair with the mother of a woman who claims to be his illegitimate daughter, TV’s most beloved family man acknowledged in a television interview.

``If you said, `Did you make love to the woman?′ the answer is yes. `Are you the father?′ No,″ Cosby told Dan Rather in an interview scheduled to air Sunday on CBS’ ``60 Minutes.″

Rather asked if there was a possibility he could be the woman’s father.

``There is a possibility,″ Cosby said, according to a transcript.

The interview, portions of which were broadcast Monday on ``The CBS Evening News,″ was Cosby’s first since the Jan. 16 slaying of his 27-year-old son, Ennis. No arrests have been made.

Autumn Jackson, 22, the woman claiming to be Cosby’s daughter, is charged along with 51-year-old Jose Medina with trying to extort millions from the entertainer.

Federal prosecutors charge that on the day Ennis Cosby was shot to death changing a flat tire in Los Angeles, Ms. Jackson and Medina sent a fax to Cosby’s representative demanding money. She and Medina were arrested in Cosby’s lawyer’s office after allegedly trying to negotiate a $24 million payoff.

Ms. Jackson was freed from jail Monday night after two Californians guaranteed a $250,000 bond.

Her lawyer, Robert Baum, described the people who guaranteed her bond, Richard Jesperson and Lois Mayfield, as ``two people who care about her, believe in her and trust in her.″

Baum called Cosby’s acknowledgement of an affair with Ms. Jackson’s mother a ``substantial change from critical comments that came from Cosby representatives earlier.″ But prosecutors have said that even if Cosby were proven to be Ms. Jackson’s father, she would still be charged with extortion.

In Los Angeles, Ms. Jackson’s mother, Shawn Thompson, told KNBC television her daughter was ``not doing anything that I think is wrong″ but couldn’t comment on the charges in detail.

She called Cosby ``a wonderful man.″ Asked whether she loves Cosby, she said, ``Doesn’t the whole world?″ On the brief video clip, she was not asked if Cosby was her daughter’s father.

In the past, Cosby representatives have denied that he was Ms. Jackson’s father and described her as one of several young people to whom he had given money for tuition. Cosby has been married to his wife, Camille, for 33 years.

``On the birth certificate, it’s not my name,″ Cosby said in part of the interview broadcast Monday.

``I had not spoken to the mother during her pregnancy nor her delivery nor some 14 months until we finally spoke. Never _ she never called me and then one day when I called her for a second rendezvous, she came and she made the announcement,″ he said.

On his son’s death, Cosby told Rather his life must return to normal.

``I think it’s time for me to tell the people that we have to laugh _ we’ve got to laugh,″ he said.

Cosby, who got his start as a comedian by describing his childhood, later gathered material from his wife, son and four daughters. Through his former TV alter ego Cliff Huxtable and in the real-life depictions that filled his best-selling book ``Fatherhood,″ Cosby had the image of the ultimate family man.

On Monday, Cosby returned to work on his CBS show ``Cosby,″ which is taped at a studio in Queens. ``You start to think about the person that you love who is gone. And then a part of them comes to you and says, `Hey Dad, you have to go back to work,′ and you start to laugh,″ he told Rather.

A network spokeswoman said he got in through a back door, but The New York Times said he avoided the camera crews waiting for his arrival by spending Sunday night in living quarters at the studio.

Outside the studio, a teacher, Lonnie Tait, said that despite Cosby’s admission he had an affair, he is still ``a great role model for black children.″

She delivered a large, hand-decorated sympathy card from 12 children enrolled in an after-school program. One child wrote: ``You’re our hero.″

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