RPR&C In The Media


USA Today -Bill Cosby: Six key questions answered – quote by Jerry Reisman

July 9, 2015 Posted in: RPR&C In The Media

USA Today Masthead

July 8, 2015

Bill Cosby: Six key questions answered

Now that Bill Cosby has acknowledged under oath that he procured drugs to obtain sex, what happens next in the effort by dozens of women to make him pay for alleged sexual abuse going back decades?

The short answer is: No one knows. Meanwhile, he’s paying, and big time, in the court of public opinion.

“He’s being punished very severely in the press, he’s lost a lot of income, he may lose it all going forward, no one will hire him, I’d be stunned if anyone ever did again,” says entertainment attorney Jerry Reisman of New York.

“We forgive in America, but we don’t forgive murderers or terrorists, and an (alleged) serial rapist we’re not going to forgive.”

Instead, Cosby’s accusers, now numbering nearly 50, are crying, “Validation!” on CNN. Their lawyers are near-gleeful with anticipation at winning lawsuits filed against him. At least one accuser is still hoping to pursue criminal charges against him, even though the likelihood of success is small.

Some of his longtime defenders, such as singer Jill Scott, have changed their minds, tweeting new-found disgust. TV networks that ran reruns of his popular comedy shoes have yanked them from schedules.

In Washington, the Smithsonian announced it will keep his world-class art collection on exhibit because it’s more about the art and the artists than the owner.

But Walt Disney World could not bear the scrutiny: Late Tuesday, officials removed a bronze bust of Cosby from the Hollywood Studios theme park in Florida.

In Philadelphia, the city’s Mural Arts Program is speeding up plans to remove a work featuring Cosby, which celebrates Father’s Day and shows Cosby between Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It went up in 2008 but was already on the removal list because the wall under a train bridge where it’s painted is in bad shape.

And now a sexual assault awareness group is calling on President Obama to revoke the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded to Cosby in 2002. Such a move has never been done before and would raise thorny legal and political questions for a White House committed to sexual assault prevention.

The one thing very clear on Wednesday is that Cosby — his career, his reputation, his business, philanthropic and personal relationships — is toast, even more burned than when allegations reemerged last fall that he regularly drugged and raped young women in encounters going back to the mid-1960s.

Now, thanks to the unsealing of court documents in a 10-year-old civil lawsuit against him in Philadelphia, he in on record admitting to at least one aspect of the pattern his accusers say he followed: He obtained a powerful prescription narcotic, quaaludes, to give to women he wanted to bed.

In his testimony in a 2005 deposition, Cosby suggested these encounters were consensual. His accusers say he drugged them without their knowledge and then sexually assaulted them.

The proof of either assertion has yet to be established in a court of law, but here’s where the Cosby case stands so far:

What does Cosby say?

Nothing. None of his lawyers, including the main one, Marty Singer, have responded to the new developments. Singer has said only that a statement purporting to be from the Cosby camp is “not authorized.”

Cosby’s longtime publicist, David Brokaw, has not released a statement. His most recent publicist, Andrew Wyatt of Purpose PR, who released videos of Cosby thanking fans during his recent tour, has not responded to calls and emails.

What do accusers say?

Here’s what one of the more public accusers said, which echoes what others have been saying on TV.

“I never thought I would be validated or vindicated in this,” said Joan Tarshis, of Woodstock, N.Y., who wrote an essay for The Hollywood Reporter in November in which she accused Cosby of drugging and attacking her when she was 19 and breaking into comedy writing in 1969.

“I mean, it’s turned my life around 180 because now all the people that haven’t believed me or us have come out, most of them, and said, ‘We were wrong.’ ”

What do their lawyers say?

Because statutes of limitation have expired in almost all the cases, accusers have turned to civil courts to file lawsuits against Cosby, and the new development may inspire more.

At least two suits in Massachusetts and in California, have been filed accusing Cosby of defaming accusers for denying, through his spokesmen, that he drugged or raped them, thus suggesting they were liars.

Lisa Bloom and Joseph Cammarata, who represent four accusers between them, say Cosby’s testimony will help them prove that the underlying drugging and rapes alleged in their lawsuits did in fact happen.

“This is an admission against his interest and establishes one of the issues in the case in our favor,” Bloom says.

Her client, model Janice Dickinson, is still unsatisfied “in her soul” by Cosby’s admission but she is willing to drop her lawsuit if Cosby apologizes.

“She said she doesn’t feel vindicated,” Bloom said Wednesday to USA TODAY. “She’s not going to feel vindicated until he acknowledges what he did to her and he apologizes…And if he will do that, we will drop the case.”

What do other lawyers say?

Will Cosby’s testimony in the 2005 lawsuit be admissible in other cases, in other courts, in other states now? Maybe not, says Reisman, a partner in Reisman, Peirez, Reisman and Capobianco in Garden City, N.Y.

“What he did years ago does not prove that he did (the same thing) today,” says Reisman. “Except if he’s called to testify in a pending lawsuit, then they can use his earlier testimony to impeach whatever statement he makes today.I think it can be admissible solely for that purpose, not for the purpose of whether he defamed (an accuser) or not.”

And even then it might be difficult to admit as evidence, he says, because of different standards and different judges and different state laws.

What about criminal charges?

Probably not on the rape accusations because most are too old. Last week, prosecutors in New Jersey, where there is no statute of limitations, elected not to pursue charges against Cosby sought by accuser Lili Bernard, a former The Cosby Show actress who says Cosby drugged and raped her in the early 1990s in New Jersey.

One accuser, Las Vegas dancer Chloe Goins, is trying to pursue criminal charges in Los Angeles. She says he drugged and raped her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008, when she was 18. But it’s not clear whether California’s complicated statute of limitations will apply.

Still, Los Angeles police have said they would investigate any sexual assault accusations against Cosby, regardless. A police spokeswoman, Det. Meghan Aguilar, told NPR there is at least one open criminal investigation but declined to give details because the case is ongoing.

But now a new criminal threat against Cosby — possible perjury —has emerged. The 2005 lawsuit in which he gave the deposition was filed by Andrea Constand, a Temple University basketball official who says Cosby drugged and raped her in his Philadelphia home in 2004.

Constand tried to pursue criminal charges but waited too long to collect physical evidence of drug ingestion. So she filed the lawsuit instead; it was settled in 2006 and its terms were sealed.

Bruce Castor is the former suburban Philadelphia prosecutor who declined to bring charges against Cosby at the time, citing a lack of evidence. Even if he had known about Cosby’s admission at the time, it still wouldn’t be evidence of a crime, he said Tuesday.

But it might be evidence of something else. Castor told The Associated Press that if he is elected, he will review the unsealed court documents to see if he can prove that Cosby lied in that case. Perjury is a third-degree felony in Pennsylvania, punishable by up to seven years in prison.

What do Cosby’s TV wife and his real wife say?

So far, nothing, although both actress Phylicia Rashad, his wife on The Cosby Show, and Camille Cosby, his wife of 61 years, have strongly defended him in the past nine months.

But they are under pressure now, too, on social media and from Cosby’s longtime detractors, such as Judd Apatow.

“I hope Camille Cosby and Phylicia Rashad will now stand with the victims and not with their attacker,” he told Esquire magazine on Tuesday.