Bill Cosby is facing a new sexual abuse lawsuit, with five women accusing him of groping, raping, and drugging them in separate instances as far back as 1969, as well as during the Eighties and Nineties.
The suit, obtained by Rolling Stone, was filed by Lili Bernard, Eden Tirl, Jewel Gittens, Jennifer Thompson, and Cindra Ladd. All five said they were “sexually assaulted and battered” by Cosby.
Some of the plaintiffs — including Bernard, Tirl, Thompson, and Ladd — have accused Cosby of sexual abuse in the past (Bernard is also suing Cosby in New Jersey). This new New York lawsuit was filed under the state’s new Adult Survivors Act, which suspends the statute of limitations of sexual assault cases for one year.
Along with Cosby, the new lawsuit names three companies as co-defendants for failing to intervene and protect the women: NBC Universal Media, Kaufman Astoria Studios, and the Carsey-Werner Company. NBC Universal and Carsey-Werner helped produce The Cosby Show, which was partly filmed at Kaufman Astoria Studios.
Jordan Rutsky, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement, “This is an important step toward holding Bill Cosby and his enablers accountable for their actions and finding some measure of justice for the women they have harmed. We are thankful for the plaintiffs in this lawsuit and other similarly situated women for their bravery in facing their abusers.”
Bernard also issued a statement, saying, “I am grateful to New York State to be able to stand with my fellow survivors as we support each other in our quest for justice. I also encourage all other survivors to stand up and have their voices heard. Collectively, by holding our abusers accountable for their actions, we can set an example for future generations and make this world a safer place.”
Andrew Wyatt, a rep for Cosby, said, “Unwilling to accept that Actor & Comedian Bill Cosby was vindicated by the PA State Supreme Court almost 1 year and 6 months ago a pack of 5 old alleged accusers have resurfaced to file a frivolous civil lawsuit against Mr. Cosby in the Supreme Court of the State of New York County New York. For the record, these alleged accusers were once represented by Ms. Allred and was apart of parade of accusers back in 2014 thru 2016. As we have always stated and now America see that this isn’t about justice for victims of alleged sexual assault but it’s ALL ABOUT MONEY. We believe that the courts as well as the court of public opinion will follow the rules of law and relieve Mr. Cosby of these alleged accusations. Mr. Cosby continues to vehemently deny all allegation waged against him and looks forward to defending himself in court.”
Reps for NBC Universal Media, Kaufman Astoria Studios, and Crasey-Werner also did not immediately return requests for comments.
In the new suit, Bernard — an actress and visual artist who had a guest role on a 1992 episode of The Cosby Show — accused Cosby of drugging and raping her on two occasions in 1990. The first incident allegedly took place when Cosby, who she claimed offered to be a “mentor” to Bernard, invited her to his New Jersey home to discuss her career, then placed an “unknown intoxicant” in her drink. “Once Ms. Bernard was incapacitated from the unknown intoxicant, Bill Cosby undressed and raped her without her consent,” the suit reads.
The second incident allegedly took place in Nevada, where Bernard claims Cosby invited her to meet with producers from A Different World. Bernard says she was “in denial” about the first alleged rape when she agreed to the trip. In Las Vegas, Cosby again allegedly placed an “unknown intoxicant” in Bernard’s drink and raped her while she was incapacitated. This time, Bernard claims, she woke up during the alleged attack and tried to defend herself, shouting, “No.”
“Bill Cosby covered her mouth with his hand and then smothered her entire face with a pillow until Ms. Bernard lost consciousness again,” the suit claims.
During a third incident in 1991, Bernard accused Cosby of forcing her to perform oral sex on him at his Manhattan home. Cosby reportedly threatened to “blacklist” her if she resisted. After the alleged assault, Bernard said, she planned to go to the hospital and the police, which allegedly prompted Cosby to say “he would seek criminal charges against her for making a false accusation, make sure that she stays in prison for a long time, sue her for defamation, ‘blacklist’ her from the entertainment industry, and ‘erase’ her.”
The suit then states that Cosby then “pushed Mr. Bernard down the stairs and out of his home.”
Some instances allegedly took place on the set of The Cosby Show. Bernard claimed Cosby threatened to fire her and shouted “sexual profanities” at her on set, while Tirl — who also had a small role on the show in 1989 — said Cosby assaulted her in his dressing room.
Tirl claimed that while she was on set, a Cosby Show employee named Frank Scotti (who previously claimed he helped Cosby arrange payments to numerous women) insisted she have lunch with Cosby in his dressing room on multiple occasions. Tirl said she resisted these invitations but that Scotti repeatedly “physically escorted her” to Cosby’s dressing room in front of other employees.
During one of these instances, Tirl said a person on set (possibly an assistant director) told her, “It happens all the time. Just go.” During another instance, Tirl “made eye contact with the director of The Cosby Show with the expectation that he, as an authority figure, would intercede however, he did nothing.” Tirl allegedly told other employees she was uncomfortable and did not want to dine with Cosby, but “those employees also did nothing,” prompting Tirl to break down and cry “because of the humiliation.” She was then, once again, allegedly taken to Cosby’s dressing room.
Three of the four times Tirl was allegedly taken to Cosby’s dressing room, she was able to leave before he arrived. But on a fourth occasion, Cosby allegedly locked the door, restrained her, “touched her breasts without her consent, forcibly pressed his penis into [her] back without consent, and forcibly kissed her neck without her consent, and then whispered, ‘This is all we were going to do. Make love. This is making love.’”
The allegation from Ladd is the oldest in the suit, with Ladd saying she became “platonic friends” with Cosby in 1969. While at a movie together, Ladd allegedly told Cosby she had a headache, prompting her to give her an unidentified pill to help. Instead, Ladd claims, she blacked out.
When she woke up, she was in a bed while Cosby was in a robe nearby. She said there were “indications” that Cosby had “vaginally raped her without her consent while she was blacked out, including his semen on and between her legs.”
As for the other two plaintiffs, Gittens claimed Cosby drugged her in his Manhattan home in the late Eighties, “reached under [her] skirt and anally penetrated her with his finger without her consent.” At the time, Gittens said she was discussing a posse role on The Cosby Show with Cosby.
Thompson, meanwhile, claimed she met Cosby when she was 17. The meeting was arranged by a modeling agent, and Cosby offered to be her “mentor.” Prior to her 18th birthday, Thompson said she reached out to Cosby for advice after a difficult modeling job. Cosby allegedly invited her to his home, insisted she have an alcoholic drink he’d prepared for her, “rubbed her shoulders without consent,” and asked her to have dinner with him and then stay at his house. Thompson declined and left.
After she turned 18, Thompson said Cosby invited her to his home after dinner, where he allegedly forced her to touch his penis and masturbate him.
Cosby has faced several civil suits and one criminal case tied to the various allegations of sexual abuse against him. Most recently, a judge rejected Cosby’s bid for a retrial after he was found guilty this past June of sexually assaulting a minor in 1975 (it was a civil trial, and he was forced to pay $500,000 in damages). The other civil lawsuit against him is the one filed by Bernard in New Jersey federal court.
As for the criminal case, Cosby was initially convicted of sexual assault in 2018, but after an appeals process, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided to overturn the conviction and release Cosby from jail. The trial was specifically regarding allegations made by Andrea Constand, as the PA Supreme Court ruled that testimony from five other women who claimed Cosby had drugged and sexually assaulted them tainted the trial. The judges also said an agreement Cosby made with a previous prosecutor should have prevented him from being charged in the Constand case. In March, the United States Supreme Court turned down an appeal of the decision that overturned Cosby’s conviction.