The first day of the retrial against Bill Cosby started off with several protests, including one leading to the arrest of a topless woman. The woman ran into a crowd of onlookers outside the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, Monday morning. According to several witnesses, she leaped over a barricade and removed her shirt before the police could take her into custody just ahead of Cosby’s arrival to the courthouse.
Given the nature of the case — the 80-year-old comedian is charged with three felony counts of sexual assault for allegedly drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee, in his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004 — it’s expected that the climate outside the courthouse during this era of #MeToo and #TimesUp will continue to get heated as the case proceeds this week.
A second protest by the National Organization of Women was organized Monday morning by activists vowing to bring attention to victims of sexual violence.
“We are here to stand up for Cosby’s 57 victims and to educate the public about the realities of gender-based violence,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of New York’s NOW. “How does a man get away with sexually abusing and raping nearly 60 women before being held accountable? We are here to set the tone, and send a message that the era of impunity ends now.”
Cosby accuser Lili Bernard announced on social media that she will be holding a vigil Monday night at the courthouse for all of Cosby’s alleged victims. Her Instagram post Monday morning showed Bernard with five other accusers attending the trial. “Vanguard survivor sisters … in support of our six survivor sisters of the avant-garde about to face the two-faced beast known as Bill Cosby, the Serial Drugging Rapist who Duped the World,” she wrote. Bernard has accused Cosby of drugging and raping her while she was guest starring on the eighth and final season of The Cosby Show.
Update: The woman arrested outside the Montgomery County Courthouse during the first day of the retrial has been identified as Nicolle Rochelle, 39, of Little Falls, New Jersey. Rochelle, who also goes by the stage name Nicole Leach, was charged with disorderly conduct after entering a restricted area outside the courthouse and charging topless at Cosby as the 80-year-old comedian entered the building with his legal team.
Rochelle, an actress who has appeared in many television shows, was featured on at least one episode of The Cosby Show. She played Davina in the season-eight episode of “The Infantry Has Landed (and They’ve Fallen Off the Roof).”
According to the DA’s office, Rochelle was charged with “intent to cause a public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm or recklessly creating a risk thereof.”
FEMEN, an activist group based in Europe, is applauding Rochelle on Twitter today. “Her body was covered with the names of the victims,” FEMEN tweeted along with a photo of Rochelle being arrested. “We demand to convict #Cosby the Rapist!”
Cosby is standing trial for the second time for three counts of felony sexual assault. The first trial ended in a hung jury last year.