Bill Cosby has been hit with another slew of sexual assault and rape allegations, with five women filing a lawsuit on Monday in New York, taking advantage of a new temporary extension in the statute of limitations.
The five women claim that the actor-comedian, now 85, attacked them between 1969 and 1991.
The statute of limitations in New York for second-degree rape is 20 years, and third-degree rape is 10 years – both were increased from five years in 2019 by then-Governor Andrew Cuomo – which means that the alleged attacks took place too long ago to be prosecuted.
However, Governor Kathy Hochul in May signed into law a bill that opens a one-year window for historic sexual assault and rape cases to be filed. The window opened on November 24.
First-degree rape, like murder, has no time limit for charges to be filed.
Bill Cosby posted this photo to Instagram in July to mark his 85th birthday. He was released from prison in June 2021, having served three years of his ten year sentence, after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his conviction. He has now been sued again
Actress Lili Bernard is seen in July 2021 protesting the overturning of Cosby’s conviction. She is one of five women who sued him in New York on Monday
The five women – Lili Bernard, Eden Tirl, Jewel Gittens, Jennifer Thompson, and Cindra Ladd – are suing Cosby, the studio in the New York City borough of Queens where The Cosby Show was filmed, and NBCUniversal, which made the much-loved TV series.
They allege that the comedian ‘used his power, fame, and prestige’ in ‘a nefarious, horrific way’ to abuse them.
They claim that the companies involved in the show ‘enabled and aided’ Cosby’s sexual assaults.
‘Over the course of several decades, Bill Cosby engaged in the serial sexual assault of dozens of women for his sexual gratification while the co-defendants enabled and aided these sexual assaults to benefit financially by their association with Bill Cosby,’ the lawsuit states.
Two of the five – Bernard and Tirl – were actresses on The Cosby Show.
Cosby is seen during The Cosby Show, which filmed from 1984-1992
Bernard is seen holding aloft scales, blindfolded, as she protests outside court in Philadelphia in July 2021
Bernard, one of Cosby’s most determined accusers, who in October 2021 filed a suit against him in New Jersey, claimed that Cosby drugged and raped her in New Jersey and Nevada in 1990 and at his Manhattan home in 1991.
Tirl, who had a small role as a police officer on The Cosby Show, alleges that Cosby inappropriately touched her without consent in his dressing room in 1989 – after she was repeatedly ushered into his quarters, despite telling production staff she did not want to go.
Tirl stated in the case file that said a person on set, who she thinks may have been an assistant director, told her: ‘It happens all the time. Just go.’
She also alleges that Cosby said he ‘owned’ NBC.
Gittens alleges Cosby invited her to his Manhattan home in 1989 or 1990 to discuss working on the series, but then drugged her and sexually assaulted her.
Thompson alleges Cosby made her inappropriately touch him without her consent at his Manhattan home in 1988 when she was 18. The oldest allegation is made by Ladd, who alleges that Cosby drugged her and raped her in 1969.
She said the pair were friends, and went to see a movie together. She told Cosby she had a headache, and Cosby gave her a pill to help, which made her blackout. She said she came round in bed, aware that she had been raped by him.
Cindra Ladd (left) accused Cosby of raping her in 1969, while Jewel Gittens (right) accused him of attacking her in his Manhattan home in 1989 or 1990
Eden Tirl (left) said she was attacked in 1989 – the year after Jennifer Thompson (right) said she was groped by him in his Manhattan home
Jordan Rutsky, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said it was ‘an important step’ towards holding Cosby accountable.
He remains a free man, having been released from prison in June 2021 after serving three years of a ten year sentence. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his 2018 conviction for sexually assaulting Andrea Constand.
Rutsky said: ‘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.’
Cosby is seen on June 30, 2021, celebrating his release from prison after only three years
Cosby’s longtime spokesman Andrew Wyatt called the case ‘frivolous’ and said it was a case directed by famed women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred.
‘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,’ said Wyatt.
‘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 allegations waged against him and looks forward to defending himself in court.’