Five women are suing actor, Bill Cosby for acts of sexual abuse which happened decades ago as they attempted to break into show business.
The alleged victims said Cosby, 85, had posed as a mentor to them, but he instead drugged them, groped them, raped them and sexually abused them as far back as 1969, according to a lawsuit they filed on Monday evening in Manhattan Supreme Court.
The plaintiffs are also suing three companies – NBC Universal Media, Kaufman Astoria Studios and the Carsey-Werner Company – for their apparent failures to intervene and protect the women.
They said the companies “condoned and encouraged” the abuse by their inaction.
The five women – Lili Bernard, Eden Tirl, Jewel Gittens, Jennifer Thompson and Cindra Ladd – said Cosby volunteered to mentor them, but instead violated them when they were young and vulnerable.
Four said the abuse occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Bernard, who played the role of Mrs Minifield on “The Cosby Show”, said Cosby drugged and raped her on two occasions in 1990.During the second alleged assault, she said she awoke while Cosby was on top of her and screamed “No,” before he smothered her with a pillow, court papers say.
He also forced her to perform oral sex on him in a separate incident at his Manhattan home, after which she said she planned to go to police and the hospital, the suit alleges.
“In response, Bill Cosby told Ms Bernard that if she went to the police or the hospital, he would seek criminal charges against her for making a false accusation, make sure that she stays in prison for a long time, sue her for defamation, ‘blacklist’ her from the entertainment industry, and ‘erase’ her,” the suit further claims.
“Bill Cosby then pushed Ms Bernard down the stairs and out of his home.”
Cosby then threatened to fire her and yelled “sexual profanities” at her on the set of The Cosby Show in front of production crew and other actors.
Bernard said Cosby’s abuse made her fearful for her life and career.
With the passage of the [Adult Survivors Act], these five women can now come forward and pursue justice for what was done to them,” the plaintiff’s lawyer, Jordan Merson said.
Over the years, Cosby has been accused by dozens of women of sexual assault and has adamantly denied all the charges.
He was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault in 2018 and sentenced to 10 years in jail. He appealed the decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which overturned the conviction, leading to his release in June, 2021.
Most recently, a Santa Monica civil trial jury found him guilty in June this year of sexually abusing a teen girl in 1975.
Writing by Fany Olumoye; Editing by Julian Osamoto and Tony Okerafor