Five women are using a new law to sue Bill Cosby, accusing the comedian of sexual misconduct that dates back decades.
Lili Bernard, Eden Tirl, Jewel Gittens, Jennifer Thompson, and Cindra Ladd all say they were “sexually assaulted and battered” by Cosby, 85, Rolling Stone reported. Some of the women have previously accused Cosby of abuse, but the new lawsuit, filed Monday, has been submitted under New York state’s recently enacted Adult Survivors Act, which allows survivors of sex abuse to sue even once the statute of limitations on the alleged crimes has expired.
“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,” Bernard, who is also suing Cosby in New Jersey, said in a statement. “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.”
The Adult Survivors Act gives people who say they were sexually abused as adults a one-year-long window of time to file a lawsuit, even if decades have passed since the alleged abuse. In 2019, New York passed a similar law for survivors of child sex abuse, resulting in the filing of more than 10,000 lawsuits, according to the New York Times.
Numerous states have now passed such “lookback window” legislation for child sex abuse survivors, particularly in the wake of the #MeToo movement, but advocates had to fight for years to convince states to open up these windows. Groups like the Catholic Church vigorously opposed the laws, which opened them up to immense liability.
Roughly 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, which Cosby has always generally denied. Convicted in 2018 of sexual assault, Cosby stunned the nation when he was freed from Pennsylvania prison on a technicality in 2021. Earlier this year, a jury found Cosby liable in a civil sexual assault case. The accuser, Judy Huth, had said Cosby assaulted her at the Playbook Mansion in the 1970s, when she was just a teenager.
The lawsuit filed Monday also names the media companies NBCUniversal Media, Kaufman Astoria Studios, and the Carsey-Werner Company — which all helped create and film The Cosby Show — as defendants. NBCUniversal said it could not comment on legal matters, and the other two companies did not immediately respond to VICE News.
Cosby’s longtime spokesperson, Andrew Wyatt, denied the allegations.
“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,” he wrote in a statement to CNN. “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 allegation waged against him and looks forward to defending himself in court.”