After new Trump accusations, a look at 'Why now?'

PHILADELPHIA -- New allegations have surfaced of sexual assault against Donald Trump -- but they are not recent incidents, dating back in one case as much as three decades.

That's left some of Trump's supporters and others asking the question: Why now?

The four women who came forward this week cited Sunday night's debate and Trump's denial of ever kissing or groping a woman without consent as the straw that broke the camel's back and prompted them to talk with news organizations. One, Jessica Leeds, told The New York Times she "wanted to punch the screen" when she heard Trump's response during the debate.

Critics nevertheless are asking why the women waited so many years to finally speak out, and some are using that as ammunition to question the veracity of their claims.

The same question and doubts were raised after dozens of women came forward years after the fact to accuse comedian Bill Cosby of sexual assault.

"The No. 1 reason (people hesitate) is they are afraid they won't be believed ... because a lot of this happens in private. You may tell friends, because they'll believe you, but you may be afraid to present to authorities. You may have been drinking, or you're afraid of being blamed. You're not even sure if you may be at fault," said Dr. Judith Linden of Boston University, an emergency-room physician who treats sexual-assault victims.

'Never a good time'

"There's never a good time to come forward. If you come forward immediately, you're accused of being a gold digger. If you come forward later, you're accused of being liars. ... You know that when you go forward with a story of sexual assault, especially against a powerful person (or school), you feel isolated; you feel alone. You know you're going to be attacked.

"There's still this misconception that there's something to be gained by being a victim of sexual assault. ... Rehashing a painful moment publicly is not fun, especially when you know that so many people who hear that story are cultured to question you," said Kamilah Willingham of Los Angeles, whose account of being sexually assaulted at Harvard Law School was featured in the campus sexual-assault documentary "The Hunting Ground."

Cosby accuser Barbara Bowman said victims who speak up face further attacks.

"There's a lot of re-victimization. ... I've been harassed, chased through grocery-store parking lots. Drivers scream at me, flip me the finger. That's pretty embarrassing and hurtful and really difficult," she said.