the law

Bill Cosby Sued by 5 Women for Alleged Sexual Assault

Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Bill Cosby was sued by five women in New York on December 5 for alleged sexual assault; some of them are accusing him of rape. NBC Universal, Kaufman Astoria Studios, and the Carsey-Werner Company are also being sued in this civil complaint, as several of these women claim that the companies “knew and/or should have known Bill Cosby was sexually abusing, assaulting, and/or battering women, including on their premises, but did nothing to stop it.” The Cosby Show ran on NBC from 1984 to 1992 and was filmed at Kaufman Studios during much of its time on the air; Carsey-Werner was a producer of the hit program. All of the women who filed the suit against Cosby — Lili Bernard, Eden Tirl, Jewel Gittens, Jennifer Thompson, and Cindra Ladd — have previously come forward with sexual-abuse allegations against him. In the lawsuit, Bernard said she first met Cosby around July 1990 on the set of his eponymous sitcom. Cosby claimed that he would mentor her career, but during one meeting, he “grabbed” her breasts, diaphragm, and rib cage without consent. Later that year, the suit claims, he allegedly drugged her drink and raped her in New Jersey. Bernard, who was “in denial” over the alleged incident, agreed at some point to travel to Las Vegas at Cosby’s request. Once again, Bernard alleges, he drugged and raped her while she was incapacitated and “smothered” her with a pillow when she woke — and said “no” — which made her lose consciousness again. Bernard alleged that Cosby sexually assaulted her again in 1991 at his home in Manhattan.

Tirl said she first met Cosby at Kaufman Astoria after a taping of The Cosby Show around 1989. Tirl’s agent told her the next morning that she was cast as a police officer even though she had never auditioned for this gig. Tirl said she repeatedly rebuffed Cosby’s attempts to be alone with her, and on more than one occasion had “escaped” his dressing room before he arrived. One day, when Tirl went to his dressing room, however, Cosby entered behind her and locked the door, the suit claims. Eventually, Cosby touched her breasts and forcibly pushed his genitals against her back, kissed her neck without consent, and then remarked, “This is all we were going to do. Make love. This is making love,” the suit claims. Gittens claimed that around the late 1980s, Cosby invited her to his home on multiple occasions for “mentoring,” and during one of these meetings in 1989 or 1990, he gave her a drugged glass of wine and “anally penetrated her with his finger.” Thompson alleged that Cosby forced her to touch his penis and masturbate him at his home around 1988. Ladd, who became friends with Cosby in 1969, believes he raped her after giving her a pill that he falsely claimed would help her headache.

A rep for Cosby denied the allegations in a statement and pointed to Cosby’s overturned conviction in Pennsylvania, where he had been convicted of sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his Philadelphia-area mansion. “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,” the statement said. “Mr. Cosby continues to vehemently deny all allegation waged against him and looks forward to defending himself in court.” Neither NBC, Kaufman Astoria, nor Carsey-Werner immediately responded to requests for comment.

Asked for a response to Cosby’s statement about the women, their attorney, Jordan Rutsky, said, “The irony and contradictions within the statement by Bill Cosby’s representatives is readily apparent. Bill Cosby was never vindicated. His conviction was overturned on a technicality after a jury found him guilty. Their statement also claims that the present lawsuit is both a reaction to Bill Cosby’s release from prison and all about money, another contradiction. They are half right, though. This case was brought in part because Bill Cosby has escaped significant consequence for his actions, including prison time.” Rutsky also said, “If the women who brought this case could sue for a time machine to undo the harm he caused, they would. But they cannot, so we will seek justice for these brave women in whatever way possible.”

Bill Cosby Sued by 5 Women for Alleged Sexual Assault