Artist sues Bill Cosby over alleged hotel encounter in 1990

The former entertainer was released from prison in June after his sexual assault conviction was overturned.

Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby

A prominent Bill Cosby accuser is suing the actor over an alleged hotel room encounter in 1990 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, before the state’s two-year window for filing older sexual assault claims expires.

Los Angeles artist Lili Bernard told The Associated Press she was prompted in part by Mr Cosby’s recent release from prison.

The 84-year-old former entertainer has been free since June, when the Pennsylvania supreme court overturned his 2018 sexual assault conviction in another case on procedural grounds.

He had served more than two years of a potential 10-year sentence.

The 57-year-old Ms Bernard claims Mr Cosby drugged and raped her in a hotel room after promising to mentor her on his top-ranked US TV show. She was 26 at the time.

New Jersey’s two-year window to file sexual assault lawsuits that would otherwise be considered too old to pursue closes next month.

Ms Bernard said: “When Bill Cosby was released, it retraumatised me, it terrified me. I was really horrified for any woman or girl that would come into contact with him.

“The Pennsylvania supreme court let a predator back on the streets.”

Lili Bernard
Lili Bernard (AP)

The Pennsylvania trial judge had classified Mr Cosby as a sexually violent predator subject to lifetime supervision, but that finding became moot when the conviction was overturned, leaving Mr Cosby free of any reporting requirements.

Mr Cosby’s spokesperson said that so-called “look-back” windows like the one passed in New Jersey violate a person’s due process rights.

“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,” spokesperson Andrew Wyatt said, noting that Mr Cosby maintains his innocence and would fight allegations to “the highest court in these United States of America”.

Prosecutors in suburban Philadelphia must decide soon whether to lodge and appeal on the reversal of his conviction in their case with the US supreme court.

A jury had convicted Mr Cosby of sexually assaulting Temple University sports administrator Andrea Constand at his home in January 2004 after incapacitating her with three blue pills.

Mr Cosby was arrested in 2015, days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired.

The state supreme court said the case should not have gone to trial because Mr Cosby believed he had a binding promise from an earlier prosecutor that he would never be charged.

Mr Cosby settled a civil lawsuit with Constand for 3.4 million dollars (£2.48 million). His insurer, after the conviction, settled a defamation lawsuit filed by seven accusers in Massachusetts for an undisclosed amount.

Both Ms Constand and Ms Bernard have waived their anonymity.

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