RPR&C In The Media


USA Today – Bill Cosby: The lawyers weigh in – quote by Jerry Reisman

July 7, 2015 Posted in: RPR&C In The Media

USA Today Masthead

July 3, 2015

Bill Cosby: The lawyers weigh in

Bill Cosby

(Photo: Matt Rourke, AP)

On Monday, Bill Cosby’s latest big reveal landed with a thud.

According to unsealed testimony obtained by the Associated Press from an old sexual assault civil lawsuit, Cosby admitted to obtaining drugs for the purpose of giving them to women for sex. The drugs in question included Quaaludes.

The revelation stemmed from a 2005 civil case, when former Temple University employee Andrea Constand accused Cosby of sexually assaulting her in his home in Philadelphia in 2004. The 77-year-old comedian testified under oath in connection with that lawsuit that he gave her three half-pills of Benadryl.

Cosby’s lawyers had fought the release of the documents on the grounds that it would embarrass their client. But U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno questioned that logic, unsealing Cosby’s testimony on Monday. “Why would he be embarrassed by his own version of the facts?” Robreno said.

The damning testimony swayed many of Cosby’s last supporters. Singer Jill Scott, who had called the Cosby allegations “insane” in December, tweeted that “the sworn testimony is proof,” and added she was “completely disgusted.”

Within 24 hours, the Bounce television network decided to pull reruns of Cosby from the air immediately.

The network, geared toward black viewers, had aired back-to-back episodes of Cosby each weekday at 5 p.m. Cosby’s sitcom originally aired on CBS from 1996 to 2000.

The BET-owned Centric Network is also pulling all Cosby episodes, “until further notice,” according to The Wrap.

So what changes for Cosby now in the eyes of the law? The statute of limitations has expired in almost all the cases women have brought against him over the years, but several civil suits against the comedian are pending.

Legal minds collide on what could happen. “It could have absolutely no effect,” says Jerry Reisman an entertainment litigation attorney, and a partner in the Garden City, New York Law firm Reisman ,Peirez, Reisman and Capobianco.

Typically, he adds, a deposition admitting guilt in a case so old (and past the statute of limitations) is not “an indication that he would have done this in the future and is therefore not admissible in either the civil or criminal cases.”

But celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents 17 Cosby accusers, says she is “hopeful” she and Judy Huth, who filed a civil suit against Cosby for allegedly molesting her inside the Playboy Mansion when she was 15 years old, will be able to sway a judge to use his latest admission in court.

“This confirms the allegations of numerous victims who have said that he has used drugs in order to sexually assault them,” Allred said.

California passed a law in 1990 allowing allegations of underage sexual abuse to be made in civil suits years or decades later. Huth, now 55, alleges that when she was a teen, Cosby “took her hand in his and performed a sex act on himself without her consent.”

Now, Allred says, “we are very hopeful that we will be able to use this admission in the case of Judy Huth v. Bill Cosby, which Mr. Cosby is attempting to block by filing a writ with the California Supreme Court. Coincidentally, (on Monday) we filed a brief on behalf of Ms. Huth in the California Supreme Court in opposition to Mr. Cosby’s effort to have Ms. Huth’s case dismissed.”

Lisa Bloom, an attorney for model Janice Dickinson in a defamation case against Cosby (and the daughter of Allred), said: “If (the) report is true, Mr. Cosby admitted under oath 10 years ago sedating women for sexual purposes. Given that, how dare he publicly vilify Ms. Dickinson and accuse her of lying when she tells a very similar story?”

Bloom says Dickinson’s defamation suit will litigate whether the underlying drugging and rape she alleges did in fact happen.

“Ms. Dickinson says they did. Mr. Cosby now acknowledges that he procured drugs for the purpose of having sex with young women. This is an admission against his interest and establishes one of the issues in the case in our favor,” Bloom said.

Dickinson’s experience? The former model alleges she met with Cosby in a Lake Tahoe hotel room in 1982 to talk about a job offer. She says he offered her a glass of wine before she passed out. Dickinson says she remembers him raping her.

“The women have been saying they’ve been drugged and abused, and these documents appear to support the allegations,” said lawyer Joe Cammarata, who represents accuser Therese Serignese, one of three other accusers suing Cosby for defamation in Massachusetts.

Cammarata says his reading of the unsealed deposition suggests Serignese was one of the women Cosby admitted giving drugs to. She says Cosby drugged her and raped her in 1976.

“It’s going to help all three of my clients,” he said. “Cosby said he never used drugs to get sex, this testimony under oath where he admits to using drugs to get sex undermines his public pronouncements … If it happened, then (the clients) are truth-tellers and they win.”

Celebrities spoke out about the Cosby drug admission: Besides Scott, Judd Apatow, long a harsh critic of Cosby over the rape allegations, tweeted that more than ever the victims should be supported.

But Whoopi Goldberg, who has defended Cosby in the past, reiterated on The View on Tuesday that Cosby is innocent until proven guilty and “he has not been proven a rapist.”

“We’ll see what happens as more information comes out, people will make judgments,” Goldberg said. “I don’t like snap judgments because I’ve had snap judgments made on me, so I’m very, very careful … save your texts, save your nasty comments — I don’t care.”

Some of Cosby’s accusers are speaking up, too.

On Monday night, Patti Masten told Anderson Cooper those assaulted by Cosby feel “complete validation” by his unsealed testimony. Masten says in 1979 she “woke up, naked, bruised and battered” in Cosby’s hotel suite after taking “two sips” of a drink Cosby fixed her.

Barbara Bowman, one of the first in a string of woman to accuse the 77-year-old TV legend of sexual assault, told CNN’s Don Lemon Cosby’s comments are a game-changer. “I’ve worked so long and hard to tell my story and screamed on deaf ears. It really was quite amazing … everything turned 180 today.”

Legally, Cosby is likely to get off “home-free,” says Reisman – unless a victim exists who was sexually assaulted within the statue of limitations. “There may be a state out there where (an assault) may have occurred that he could still be prosecuted for, either criminally or charged civilly for,” says Reisman.

Cosby’s representatives have not returned requests for comment. He has several lawyers and at least one PR firm working for him but his main attorney is Los Angeles lawyer Marty Singer.

ABC News reported that an unnamed representative of Cosby provided a statement reiterating that Cosby settled the Constand suit to save himself and accusers embarrassment.

Singer declared to USA TODAY in an email Tuesday that the statement ABC cited was “unauthorized.” But he did not provide his own authorized statement responding to the 10-year-old drug admissions by Cosby.