Lili Bernard says she couldn’t help but feel “nauseated” Monday when she woke up to the news the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the stunning decision last year that overturned Bill Cosby’s criminal conviction.
“It’s depressing and maddening – but not surprising. This is where our country is leaning,” Bernard, who is now suing Cosby in federal court in New Jersey for an alleged rape in one of Donald Trump’s Atlantic City hotels in 1990, says.
The Los Angeles-based artist and actress was one of three Cosby accusers who spoke to Rolling Stone minutes after learning about the denial from the high court that includes two men accused of sexual misconduct among its nine justices.
“It’s just an affirmation that America’s so-called ‘justice system’ is still stacked against women and sexual assault survivors. It’s like, my stomach is turning. I’m nauseated,” Bernard says.
Fellow Cosby accuser Angela Leslie tells Rolling Stone she also was disappointed in the SCOTUS refusal but didn’t consider it any type of vindication for the actor and comedian. “Nothing changes what he did. I think it’s simply a technicality. The jury did find him guilty, so it’s no exoneration,” she says.
Leslie was an aspiring actress in 1992 when Cosby lured her to a Las Vegas hotel suite with the promise of helping her career, she says. He asked her to wet her hair and act intoxicated for an impromptu audition. He handed her a drink that she barely sipped and then allegedly ambushed her by grabbing her hand and forcing her to masturbate him.
Leslie was one of seven women who sued Cosby for defamation and won a settlement after he denied their allegations. “He’s been exposed for what he did, and now he should work on himself to realize his actions were not acceptable. From the beginning – day one – I asked Cosby to acknowledge and apologize. But that never came,” Leslie says.
Former Playboy bunny P.J. Masten tells Rolling Stone she was “just in shock” after hearing about the SCOTUS decision. “I suffer every day with PTSD and severe anxiety disorder – every single day of my life. It’s a life sentence for me, and he got off.”
Masten says Cosby drugged and raped her in 1979, when she was working as a Bunny manager at the Playboy Club in Chicago. Her account of the alleged experience was due to be featured Monday night in the latest episode of the A&E docu-series Secrets of Playboy.
The Supreme Court’s denial Monday means the surprise decision from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that sprung Cosby from prison after nearly three years last June will stand. That divided decision found that Cosby never should have been tried and convicted on charges he sexually assaulted Andrea Constand in 2004 because a previous district attorney made a secret promise not to prosecute him.
Cosby’s spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, offered his client’s “sincere gratitude to the justices” in a statement Monday. Wyatt repeatedly has claimed race played a role in Cosby’s conviction. Bernard scoffs at that assessment.
“More than a third of us Cosby survivors are Black women, and Black women’s lives matter too,” Bernard tells Rolling Stone. “His claim that he’s being racially targeted is just ludicrous. His camp has likened us — his victims — to being a lynch mob, and it’s just ridiculous.
Bernard says she also is living with PTSD in the aftermath of her alleged attack. “We’re survivors and we’re resilient, but there’s the day-to-day struggle. Bill Cosby pushed the pillow into my face to silence my screams of ‘No.’ And because he had drugged me with whatever he slipped into my sparkling apple cider, I couldn’t even move my limbs well enough to push him off of me, so I thought I would die of suffocation. So now my pillow can be a trigger when I sleep every night. And he washed me after he raped me, so taking showers can be difficult for me; the feel of running water. These are things we need to deal with day to day that people don’t understand.”