PHILADELPHIA – A prominent Bill Cosby accuser filed a lawsuit Thursday against the actor over a 1990 hotel room meeting in Atlantic City, New Jersey, before the state’s two-year deadline expired for file older sexual assault complaints.
Los Angeles artist Lili Bernard told The Associated Press she was motivated in part by Cosby’s recent release from prison. Cosby, 84, has been free since June, when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his 2018 sexual assault conviction in another case on procedural grounds.
He had served more than two years of a potential 10-year sentence.
Bernard, 57, says Cosby drugged and raped her in a hotel room after promising to guide her on her top-rated TV show. She was 26 at the time.
New Jersey’s two-year window for filing sexual assault charges that would otherwise be considered too old to prosecute ends next month.
“When Bill Cosby was released it traumatized me, it terrified me. I was really horrified for any woman or girl who came into contact with him,” Bernard told the AP. “The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania let a predator return to the streets. “
The Pennsylvania trial judge had classified Cosby as a sexually violent predator under lifetime surveillance, but that finding became moot when the conviction was overturned, leaving Cosby free from any obligation to report.
Cosby’s spokesperson said so-called “look back” windows like the one adopted in New Jersey violate a person’s due process rights.
“This is just another attempt to abuse legal process, opening the floodgates for people who have never presented any evidence,” spokesman Andrew Wyatt said, noting that Cosby maintains his innocence and fight the allegations in “the highest court of this United States of America.
Suburban Philadelphia prosecutors are due to decide soon whether to appeal the overturned conviction in their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
A jury found Cosby guilty of sexually assaulting Temple University sports administrator Andrea Constand at her home in January 2004 after neutralizing her with three blue pills. Cosby was arrested in 2015, days before the 12-year limitation period expired.
The state Supreme Court said the case should not have gone to trial because Cosby believed he had a binding promise from a former prosecutor that he would never be charged.
Cosby settled a civil lawsuit with Constand for $ 3.4 million. His insurer, after conviction, settled a libel action filed by seven accusers in Massachusetts for an undisclosed amount.
The AP generally does not identify people who say they are sexually assaulted without their permission, which Constand and Bernard have granted.
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