One of Bill Cosby’s accusers is now suing him in New Jersey civil court, months after Pennsylvania’s high court threw out his sexual assault conviction on a technicality.
The lawsuit alleges Cosby drugged and raped Lili Bernard in New Jersey in 1990 after offering to feature the young actress on his hit television program, “The Cosby Show.” Bernard filed the suit under a New Jersey law that gives sexual abuse survivors a two-year window to bring civil claims against their alleged abusers, regardless of when the abuse took place.
“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. Although it occurred long ago, I still live with the fear, pain and shame every day of my life,” Bernard said in a press release announcing the lawsuit.
Bernard is one of dozens of women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault in the past.
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The lawsuit alleges that Cosby offered to mentor Bernard in 1990. In August of that year, Cosby arranged for Bernard to travel from New York to the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City under the guise of meeting with a man whom Cosby allegedly “described as a producer who would advance Ms. Bernard’s career,” according to the lawsuit.
The suit further alleges that once at the hotel, Cosby gave Bernard a supposedly non-alcoholic drink, knowing she did not consume alcohol. Shortly thereafter, Bernard began feeling weak, dizzy and nauseous, eventually passing out and awakening to find Cosby undressing her despite her protestations, the lawsuit states.
Bernard fainted again and awoke to Cosby vaginally raping her before she again lost consciousness and woke up naked in a bathroom jacuzzi, according to the lawsuit. The suit says Bernard awoke the next morning naked on a bed, at which point Cosby “dressed her quickly,” had a bellman help him walk Bernard to a waiting car and then had Bernard taken from New Jersey back to New York.
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In a statement, Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt called "look back provisions" unconstitutional and a denial of due process.
"This is just another attempt to abuse the legal process, by opening up the flood gates for people, who never presented an ounce of evidence, proof, truth and/or facts, in order to substantiate their alleged allegations," Wyatt wrote, in part. "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."
Wyatt also noted that in 2015, prosecutors in New Jersey closed an investigation into Bernard's rape allegations without charging Cosby. Then-Cosby attorney Ed Jacobs told the Press of Atlantic City at the time that the case was closed because Bernard's allegations predated a 1996 state law that ended the statute of limitations on rape.
Bernard's new civil suit seeks $125 million in damages.
Cosby was convicted in 2018 of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. The guilty verdict was seen as a vindication of the #MeToo movement, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in June of this year threw out the conviction, saying a previous agreement between Cosby and former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor prevented Cosby from being charged in the Constand case.