On November 24, a New York law empowering adult sexual assault survivors to sue their perpetrators even after the statute of limitations had expired went into effect. As a result, high profile cases that previously could not move forward have gained new momentum—cases like that of E. Jean Carroll, and, as of this week, five women who’ve long alleged that serial sexual predator Bill Cosby assaulted them.
Their suit, filed on Monday, names all five accusers—Lili Bernard, Eden Tirl, Jewel Gittens, Jennifer Thompson and Cindra Ladd—and alleges that each woman was abused or assaulted by the disgraced comedian after meeting him between the 1960s and 1990s.
“Each plaintiff was sexually assaulted and battered by defendant Bill Cosby in the same or similar manner when he used his power, fame, and prestige, including the power, fame and prestige given to him by [the] defendants…to misuse his enormous power in such a nefarious, horrific way,” the suit states.
As detailed in the suit, Bernard alleges that Cosby drugged and assaulted her on numerous occasions—including one in which she woke up as he raped her and attempted to smother her with a pillow. When Bernard, who was guest-starring on The Cosby Show at the time, threatened to go to the police, she alleges that Cosby threw her down a flight of stairs and kicked her out while threatening to “destroy her.”
Tirl, who also guest-starred on the sitcom, said she was escorted to Cosby’s dressing room by an employee, and as soon as she was left alone in the room, he locked the door and assaulted her. “This is making love,” she recalls him whispering into her ear.
“It was well known that Bill Cosby would regularly take young women into his dressing room, and when you read the complaint, you’ll see there were instances where staff saw this happening and even encouraged the plaintiff to submit,” said attorney Jordan Rutsky, who represents all five of the women. “This was not a hidden secret that Bill Cosby was doing these things.”
The suit further alleges that NBC, Kaufman Astoria Studios and Carsey-Werner Television “facilitated the sexual assault of women” by actively rendering them vulnerable to the predation of Cosby and allowing them to be alone with him on countless instances.
Cosby’s spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, called the suit “frivolous.” “As we have always stated, and now America can see, this isn’t about justice for victims of alleged sexual assault, it’s ALL ABOUT MONEY,” Wyatt said. “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.”
In the last decade, at least 60 women have publicly alleged that Cosby raped or assaulted them. In 2018, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for indecent assault, yet was released in 2021 on a technicality after serving just two years. In May 2022, he was found liable in the 1975 assault of Judy Huth, who alleged he invited her to the Playboy Mansion and assaulted her when she was just 16 years old.