Women Who Have Accused Bill Cosby Of Sexual Assault React To Criminal Charge
A Pennsylvania district attorney charged the comedian with aggravated indecent assault Wednesday morning.
Originally posted on Dec. 30, 2015, at 11:12 a.m. Updated on Dec. 30, 2015, at 11:11 p.m.
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The district attorney for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, charged Bill Cosby with one count of aggravated indecent assault Wednesday morning.
It marked the first time the comedian has been criminally charged after several allegations of sexual assault have been brought against him by different women. BuzzFeed News spoke to some of the women, and the attorneys representing them, about their reaction to Wednesday’s announcement.
Joe Cammarata, the attorney who represents accuser Joan Tarshis, called today’s announcement of the charge “a positive step.”
“It undermines his contention, at least with respect to Andrea, that his encounter with her was consensual,” he told BuzzFeed News. “This is going to have a significant impact on the other cases pending against him.”
Tarshis was unable to comment because of a defamation countersuit Cosby filed against her and several other women earlier this month. Between October and November, a total of 10 women sued him for defamation.
Cammarata — who, along with attorney Michael Bressler, represents several other women — added in a statement that the charge “will validate the claims of those dozens of women who have publicly declared that Mr. Cosby has also abused them.”
Louisa Moritz, a former actress who came forward with a sexual assault allegation against Cosby on November 20, told BuzzFeed News that she was not surprised when she heard criminal charges were filed against the comedian.
She added that the criminal charge has no bearing on how she feels about her own case.
“I hope this case finishes up because everybody has waited too long,” she said. “The people that have been waiting have been waiting too long for any justice at all.”
Wednesday’s announcement dealt with an alleged assault that took place at Cosby’s Cheltenham, Pennsylvania home in 2004.
Andrea Constand, who met Cosby through her job as a former basketball coach at Temple University, accused him of drugging and sexually assaulting her.
Cosby was arraigned on Wednesday afternoon and was released after posting bail.
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LilI Bernard, second from left, in a group photo with Bill Cosby, second from right.
Courtesy of AMG Law
Lili Bernard gathers with protestors outside of Bill Cosby’s tour in May, 2015.
Lili Bernard, a former actress who alleged she was drugged and raped by Cosby while guest-starring on The Cosby Show in the 1990s, reiterated a quote to BuzzFeed News she had said to fellow alleged assault survivors and activists in the past: “Truth spoken to power can knock corruption to its knees.”
In April, after reporting the alleged crime to Atlantic City police, Bernard told media outlets that she last had contact with Bill Cosby in 1992 when he threatened her, saying, “As far as I’m concerned, Bernard, you’re dead. Do you hear me? You’re dead, Bernard. You don’t exist. I never wanna see your face again. Now get the hell out of here!”
Soon after the news of Cosby’s arraignment broke, Bernard posted this message on her artist Facebook page:
Our speaking out has made a difference. Thank you to all my nearly 60 Cosby Survivor Sisters who have spoken out to the media and to all of you who believed and supported us. My prayers go out to Andrea Constand, the Queen Supreme, whom I hold in the deepest of gratitude. Glory Hallelujah Amen. It’s a new day.
Chelan Lasha, a former model who alleged she was assaulted by Cosby in 1986 when she was 17, said she hadn’t stopped crying with joy all day.
“I’m so happy… It’s just been so long and so much pain,” she told BuzzFeed News. “He ruined me, and ruined a lot of people, Nobody would believe me or listen back in the ’80s, I was just a child.”
Now, she said between sobs, she felt people were “finally listening, and things are finally changing.”
Lasha is also represented by Gloria Allred and has spoken publicly about the alleged assault on multiple occasions, though she has recently pulled away from the spotlight. “People began to come and bother my children,” she told BuzzFeed News.
“But mostly it was reliving that night over and over again every time I talked about it.” She said she began having nightmares after seeing Cosby’s face on television.
“I just want him to pay for what he did,” she said.
When Lasha first found out the news, she said it felt like “a burden of years has finally been taken off my chest.”
Many of the other accusers, with whom Lasha said she talks regularly – “They’re my sisters,” she said – feel similarly celebratory. “We’ve been talking all day about this, we’re all so, so, happy. We all say, ‘Finally!’”
Attorney Gloria Allred holds a news conference in Los Angeles. Kevork Djansezian / Reuters
Speaking to reporters at her office in Los Angeles, Allred, who represents 29 of the women who have made accusations against Cosby, said the news of the arrest was greeted with joy by her clients.
“Seeing him criminally charged and having to face a trial is the best Christmas present they have ever received,” she said. “I’m very happy this case has now received new and close scrutiny.”
Allred added that many of her clients would be willing to testify if called upon.
While she was aware of the ongoing criminal investigation of Cosby in Pennsylvania, Allred said she was “stunned” that the arrest happened Wednesday morning.
“You have heard the expression there is a new sheriff in town, well, there is a new district attorney elected in Montgomery,” she said. “This is a very high-profile case at this point. I’m glad that this day has come and that in a court of law this matter will be decided.
Meanwhile, Allred is moving forward with her civil case on behalf of Judy Huth, who alleged Cosby sexually assaulted her in the 1970s at the Playboy Mansion when she was just 15. A court hearing has been set for Feb. 2 to compel Cosby to answer questions put forth in a deposition. Allred said Cosby refused to answer questions under oath during his video taped deposition in October.
Lisa Bloom, the lawyer of model Janice Dickinson, released a statement on the charges on Twitter saying she and her client were “heartened” by Wednesday’s news.
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Bloom said she and Dickinson were “fighting with Mr. Cosby’s teams of lawyers for many months now, merely to get a day in court for Ms. Dickinson.”
Dickinson, who was a successful super model in the 1980s and ’90s, alleges that Cosby drugged and raped her in the late ’80s.
“Though he is a very wealthy and famous celebrity,” Bloom wrote, “Mr. Cosby should be subject to the same criminal and civil laws as everyone else.”
Bloom went on to call Cosby’s arrest a “high significant chapter in his accusers’ journey toward justice.”