Content warning: This story contains discussion and description of claims of sexual assault.
Bill Cosby has been served with a new lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault, filed on Monday (December 5) by five women who had previously alleged that the disgraced actor and comedian had abused them.
As reported by The Guardian, the lawsuit claims that Cosby had assaulted each of the women – Lili Bernard, Eden Tirl, Jewel Gittens, Jennifer Thompson and Cindra Ladd – at various points between the late 1960s and 1990s.
It’s said in legal documents that NBC, Kaufman Astoria Studios and Carsey-Werner Television were all complicit in Cosby’s alleged misconduct, and “facilitated the sexual assault of women” by refusing to monitor his actions. A representative for NBCUniversal rejected The Guardian’s request for comment.
In a statement, lawyer Jordan Rutsky – who is representing all five women in this case – said that Cosby’s alleged misconduct was “not a hidden secret”, and was rather “just accepted” by those in the film and television industries. Rutsky went on to claim that “there were instances where staff saw this happening and even encouraged the plaintiff to submit [to Cosby]”.
According to the lawsuit, Cosby preceded his alleged actions by drugging victims with pills or through drinks he’d given them. Representatives of the actor have denied the legitimacy of these claims, however, with spokesman Andrew Wyatt saying the women “have resurfaced to file a frivolous civil lawsuit” against his client.
In a statement published by The Guardian, Wyatt claimed that “this isn’t about justice for victims of alleged sexual assault, it’s all about money”.
One of the five accusers, Lili Bernard – who in the 1990s, starred as Mrs Minifield on The Cosby Show – has a separate lawsuit against Cosby pending in New Jersey, relating to an incident that’s alleged to have occurred in Atlantic City. This alleged incident is unrelated to those outlined in the new lawsuit.
Back in June, Cosby was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in 1975. A majority of jurors found that Cosby had intentionally caused harmful sexual conduct with Judy Huth, now aged 64, when the two met at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. Said jurors found that Cosby reasonably believed Huth was under the age of 18, and that his behaviour was motivated by unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in a minor.
Over the years, Cosby has been accused of sexual assault by more than 60 women. 2018 saw him jailed for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004, but this conviction was overturned on a legal technicality in June of 2021.