An accuser who says Bill Cosby drugged and sexually abused her during a purported mentorship that began on the set of his popular television show has filed a $225 million civil suit in federal court.
Documents obtained by Law&Crime say Lili Bernard, whose name has long been publicly associated with accusations against Cosby, is alleging claims of assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and false imprisonment. Bernard is seeking “no less than” $25 million on the four core accusations and $125 million in punitive damages.
Bernard says in court documents that she first met Cosby on the set of “The Cosby Show” and that he offered to mentor her as an actor starting around July 1990. Cosby promised the plaintiff he would “feature her in a principal speaking role” on the program — but his training involving “theatrical exercises” also came with “detailed questions about her life” and comments about what the lawsuit calls the “sexual pressures of Hollywood.”
From the lawsuit at length:
During one of the mentoring sessions toward the end of July 1990, while Mr. Cosby was guiding Ms. Bernard through a theatrical exercise in vocal projection, Mr. Cosby grabbed Ms. Bernard’s ribcage and diaphragm without her permission under the guise that he was teaching her how to breathe, and then suddenly, violently, and without permission grabbed and squeezed Ms. Bernard’s breasts.
When Ms. Bernard confronted Mr. Cosby about his inappropriate and unpermitted sexual contact, he feigned innocence and acted insulted. Ms. Bernard did not know what to think about what transpired.
The next month, Cosby set up an alleged meeting at what was then the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City under the guise that he would introduce Bernard to a “produce who would advance” her career. However, the interstate trip was merely for the “purpose of drugging and then sexually abusing” the plaintiff, the lawsuit alleges.
Once at the suite, Mr. Cosby prepared a supposedly non-alcoholic beverage for Ms. Bernard to drink, since she did not drink alcoholic beverages.
After drinking the beverage, Ms. Bernard began to feel symptoms of dizziness, an urge to vomit, and weakness.
Mr. Cosby helped Ms. Bernard to the restroom where he said, “Daddy’s going to get you something to feel better,” before leaving the room. She thereafter vomited and lost consciousness.
When Ms. Bernard awoke, Mr. Cosby was undressing her and she remained dizzy, unable to stand, and unable to move her body.
When Ms. Bernard said, “No,” in response to Mr. Cosby’s efforts to undress her, Mr. Cosby ignored her and continued to undress her. She lost consciousness again.
Ms. Bernard awoke again to find Mr. Cosby naked atop her, vaginally raping her with his penis. Ms. Bernard lost consciousness again.
When Ms. Bernard awoke again, she found herself naked and alone in an empty bathtub or jacuzzi in the bathroom, still dizzy and unable to move. She went in and out of consciousness until fully losing consciousness again.
When Ms. Bernard next awoke, it was the morning and she was naked in bed.
Upon her awakening, Mr. Cosby dragged Ms. Bernard to a sitting position, dressed her quickly, handed Ms. Bernard money, and walked her to a waiting car with the assistance of a bellman.
The lawsuit alleges that Cosby “sexually assaulted, battered, and drugged Ms. Bernard on additional occasions” as well. It further alleges that Cosby threatened Bernard with a lawsuit and threatened to ruin Bernard’s career if she went to the police.
Bernard says she suffers a considerable list of harms: “post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, emotional distress and physical sequelae thereof, nightmares, flashbacks, inability to sleep, severe physical pain and suffering, severe emotional pain and suffering, embarrassment, and multiple other permanent injuries.”
Cosby is described as having committed “acts and omissions” which “constitute[d] an intentional, blatant, willful, and wanton disregard for” Bernard’s safety and the safety of “women in general.”
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
Andrew Wyatt, a representative for Cosby, rubbished the lawsuit when reached for comment by Yahoo Entertainment.
“These look back provisions are unconstitutional and they are a sheer violation of an individual’s constitutional rights and denies that individual of their due process,” Wyatt said. “This is just another attempt to abuse the legal process, by opening up the floodgates for people who never presented an ounce of evidence, proof, truth and/or facts, in order to substantiate their alleged allegations. Mr. Cosby continues to maintain steadfast in his innocence and will vigorously fight any alleged allegations waged against him and is willing and able to take this fight to the highest court in these United States of America.”
Bernard put it differently in a separate statement released to Yahoo.
“I have waited a long time to be able to pursue my case in court and I look forward to being heard and to hold Cosby accountable for what he did to me,” Bernard said. “Although it occurred long ago, I still live with the fear, pain and shame every day of my life.”
Cosby was released from a Pennsylvania prison in late June after the commonwealth’s supreme court overturned his 2018 conviction on three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Defense attorneys successfully argued that prosecutors violated Cosby’s constitutional rights by allowing five additional accusers to testify against the entertainer. (Cosby was not charged directly in their cases.) The defense also argued that a non-prosecution agreement with a former district attorney should have precluded his subsequent prosecution entirely.
Read the court filing below:
Editor’s note: this report has been updated since its initial publication to contain additional details from the complaint and to provide context about Cosby’s Pennsylvania criminal case. It has also been updated to contain statements from Bernard and from a representative for Cosby.
[Photo by Michael Abbott/Getty Images]
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