Actress Sunni Welles, who accused Bill Cosby of sexually assaulting her twice, as a teenager dies aged 72
- Sunni Welles died in California on Monday following a battle with lung cancer
- She had starred in sitcoms as a child and later toured with Elvis Presley
- In 2015, she joined dozens of other women to accuse Bill Cosby of sex abuse
- She alleged she was drugged and assaulted as a 17-year-old in the 1960s
- Cosby was released from prison in June after sex assault conviction overturned
An actress who accused Bill Cosby of sexually assaulting her twice as a minor in the 1960s has died aged 72 after a battle with lung cancer.
Sunni Welles, who started acting aged 10 and toured with Elvis Presley as a singer and dancer, died on Monday in California, her son confirmed.
She joined dozens of women in 2015 to accuse TV star Cosby of sexual assault, who she met as a 17-year-old when her mother was working on the set of sitcom I Spy.
In a statement released through her lawyer, she claimed Cosby invited her to a famous Hollywood jazz club where she drank a coke before waking up naked and alone, feeling as though she had had sex, but with no memory of the night.
Sunni Welles attends a news conference in Los Angeles in 2015 with other alleged Cosby victims
Bill Cosby outside his home in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, after being released from prison in June
Welles said she made her way home and later called Cosby who told her she had got drunk on champagne and that he had taken her to the apartment to sleep it off.
He denied anything untoward had happened and the young Welles believed him.
Cosby then invited her to another venue, the Magic Castle, for dinner and to watch magic shows.
Welles stated that again she only drank coke but awoke in the same room as before, naked and alone.
She said: ‘This time I didn’t call him and I never heard from Bill Cosby again after that. I told my mother and she never spoke to him again either. He was a star. He was Bill Cosby and I buried it in my memory until all of these brave women began to come forward.’
In her statement, she directly addressed Cosby, saying: ‘If you are a changed man, Bill, you should admit what you have done and at least show some remorse for your sins!
‘Bill Cosby, if you are the man you think you are, you should be ashamed and tell the truth. You owe at least that to your courageous and brave victims!’
Pennsylvania’s highest court threw out Cosby’s 2018 sexual assault conviction in June in a stunning reversal of fortune that saw him released from prison.
The 83-year-old, once known as ‘America’s Dad’, returned to his Philadelphia home after serving nearly three years for allegedly drugging and assaulting Temple University sports administrator Andrea Constand in 2004.
His conviction was overruled because the prosecutor who brought the case was bound by his predecessor’s promise not to prosecute Cosby.
Sunni Welles, second from right, performing with The Jeff Kutash Dancers at Walt Disney studios in November, 1978
Welles was renowned for her friendship with the King of Rock Presley with whom she toured the world as a singer and dancer.
She married singer and actor John O’Banion with whom she had a son, Shaun, before they divorced.
In the late 1990s she retired as an actress to focus on jazz singing with her band Shiver.
She then settled in Santa Monica, California, working as a spiritual medium until she was diagnosed with cancer.
Welles is survived by her son.