Woman who alleges Bill Cosby sexually assaulted her 50 years ago files lawsuit

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A woman who claims to have been sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby more than 50 years ago has filed a new lawsuit against the comedian and actor under a law that allows the victims of historic abuse cases to have their day in court.

Joan Tarshis originally came forward with claims against Mr Cosby in 2014, saying he had sexually assaulted her when she was a young comedy writer.

The claims are repeated in the new lawsuit filed on Friday at the Supreme Court in New York City. Ms Tarshis claims Mr Cosby drugged her and forced her to perform oral sex on him in 1969 or 1970, and then drugged and raped her during another encounter a year or two later.

The lawsuit accuses Mr Cosby of battery, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and false imprisonment, according to CNN, and Ms Tarshis is seeking unspecified damages.

The suit has been filed under the New York Adult Survivors Act (ASA) which was signed in May of this year. The law applies to survivors of sexual offences that occurred when they were over the age of 18 and gives a window of a year for claims to be brought regardless of the statute of limitations.

The new lawsuit accuses Mr Cosby of battery, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and false imprisonment

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Advocates say the window gives traumatised adults a chance to seek accountability from big institutions and powerful men who can use their wealth and position to shield themselves. The ASA is due to expire next week.

Ms Tarshis, now a New York resident, was living in California at the time of the first assault and had met Mr Cosby through a mutual friend while he was starring in The Bill Cosby Show, according to the lawsuit.

In the lawsuit, seen by the Associated Press, Ms Tarshis said the actor invited her to meet with him at the studio lot where he was filming his show, under the pretence of working on a skit she was writing.

Once in his bungalow, Ms Tarshis said she fell unconscious after accepting a drink from Mr Cosby and awoke to find him undressing her before forcing her to perform oral sex. “Ms Tarshis was mortified and feared for her life,” and returned to New York without telling anyone what happened, according to the lawsuit.

Ms Tarshis had previously discussed the incident publicly with CNN newsman Don Lemon in 2014.

The interview garnered much attention and elicited an apology from Lemon after he appeared to suggest that Ms Tarshis could have bitten Mr Cosby’s genitals to avoid giving him oral sex. Ms Tarshis told him that it “did not even enter my mind”.

Ms Tarshis had previously discussed the incident publicly with CNN newsman Don Lemon in 2014

(AFP via Getty Images)

According to her new lawsuit she next heard from Mr Cosby in 1971, when he called her home, spoke with her mother, and invited her to his show at Westbury Music Fair.

“Though Ms. Tarshis was fearful at the prospect of seeing Cosby again, she had not yet told anyone, including her mother, of the prior sexual assault and she reluctantly agreed to meet with Cosby at the insistence of her mother,” the lawsuit said.

She said she lost consciousness in a limousine Mr Cosby had arranged for them and awoke the next morning in a bed next to Mr Cosby, who she said had undressed and raped her.

A spokesperson for Mr Cosby did not address the specifics of Ms Tarshis’s claims, according to The Associated Press.

“Diddy, LA Reid, Steven Tyler, and now they circle back to this," spokesperson Andrew Wyatt said, referring to others recently sued under the ASA. "When is it going to stop?”

Mr Cosby, 86, has been accused of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment by more than 60 women. He has denied all allegations involving sex crimes.

He was the first celebrity tried and convicted in the #MeToo era and spent nearly three years at a state prison near Philadelphia before a higher court overturned the conviction and released him in 2021.

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