It took Sharon Van Ert nearly 40 years to speak out about being sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby, but it wasn’t enough to help her heal.
Van Ert was an 18-year-old waitress at a California jazz club when she encountered Cosby in 1976, and he allegedly drugged and raped her in the parking lot.
Sharing her story publicly with a group of Cosby victims in 2015 left Van Ert yearning for closure, so much so she asked her lawyer if she could confront the comedian in prison after his 2018 conviction — an idea the attorney shot down.
But on Wednesday when Cosby was released from prison after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out his conviction for sexual assault, Van Ert said she felt “duped” and robbed of a chance to experience her own “release.”
Van Ert, 63, is one of more than 60 women across the country who have accused Cosby, 83, of sexual assault.
“This is very emotional for me,” said Van Ert through violent sobs. “I have no sense of release. I think we’re the ones who got punished severely. But he has to meet with his maker and has to make things right.”
Van Ert, who grew up in Las Vegas, worked as a waitress at Concerts by the Sea, a Redondo Beach club that featured jazz stars such as Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Kenton and Sara Vaughn. Cosby, a jazz fan, was a frequent patron, often in the company of girls as young as 15, she told The Post.
In a 2015 public statement, Van Ert described the scene: “The waitresses wore short skirts and pretty red blouses as uniforms, and Mr. Cosby complimented me and said I had beautiful eyes and how nice my legs looked in my uniform.”
One night Cosby gave her a drink and walked her to her car, she said. He told her she was too drunk to drive and sat in her car where he began to rub her leg.
“The next thing I remember was waking up in my car, my head hanging down from the seat, alone,” said Van Ert. “When I got home I realized my panties were missing.”
Van Ert was not able to sue because the statute of limitations had run out in her case. She and two other women added their voices to support others who had come forward at a press conference organized by attorney Gloria Allred in 2015.
Speaking out also left her feeling victimized, Van Ert told The Post.
“You’re glad to help and move forward and you think you are doing the right thing, but then you really don’t get your point of view across,” she said. “There was no sincerity in how this [the victims’] story was put together. No one understood how fragile we still are.”
As for the nearly three years Cosby spent in prison, Van Ert said it was no punishment, given that his celebrity and wealth allowed him perks, such as imported cigars.
“Jail was really a place for him to decompress and cool down,” she said. “It’s a travesty.”