LOS ANGELES: Five women have filed a lawsuit against channel NBC and actor Bill Cosby under a New York state law that temporarily suspends the statute of limitations for older sexual assault claims.
The women alleged on Monday that Cosby either raped them or forced them into sexual acts. Four of the allegations date from the late 1980s or 1990, when the actor was at the height of his fame as the star of 'The Cosby Show' on NBC. The fifth allegation involves Cindra Ladd, a former Hollywood executive who has accused Cosby of raping her in 1969, reports 'Variety'.
One of the plaintiffs is Lili Bernard, an actress who guest starred on 'The Cosby Show', and who first came forward with her allegation at a press conference with Gloria Allred in 2015. Bernard filed a separate suit against Cosby in New Jersey in 2021.
Bernard also attended the civil trial in Santa Monica, California, in June 2022, at which a jury ordered Cosby to pay $500,000 to Judy Huth for sexually assaulting her when she was 16 years old, in 1975.
Bernard, Ladd, Eden Tirl, Jewel Gittens, and Jennifer Thompson filed the New York lawsuit under the Adult Survivors Act, which opens a one-year "lookback window" for accusers to file civil claims of sexual assault, regardless of the statute of limitations.
The window opened on November 24, six months after Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the law. Unlike similar statutes in New York and other states, the law applies to accusers who were adults at the time of the alleged assaults.
Cosby's spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, called the lawsuit "frivolous" and said the five women were part of a "parade of accusers" who had come forward between 2014 and 2016.
"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."
Cosby, now 85, was convicted in Pennsylvania in April 2018 for a criminal sex assault case. But in 2021, he was released after spending nearly three years in prison after the conviction was overturned by the state Supreme Court.