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Five women file sexual assault lawsuit against Bill Cosby, NBC

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Five women have sued former comedy and television star Bill Cosby in New York, alleging that he drugged and raped them. File Photo by Chris Szagola/UPI
Five women have sued former comedy and television star Bill Cosby in New York, alleging that he drugged and raped them. File Photo by Chris Szagola/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Five women have sued former comedy and television star Bill Cosby in New York, alleging he drugged and raped them.

The accusations stem from separate incidents over the course of almost 30 years starting in 1969, according to Rolling Stone. The women are suing Cosby, 84, under New York's Adult Survivors Act, which was signed into law in May.

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A representative for Cosby on Tuesday called the new lawsuit "frivolous."

NBC Universal Media, Kaufman Astoria Studios, and the Carsey-Werner Co. are co-defendants in the lawsuit. NBC aired The Cosby Show for eight seasons, produced by the Carsey-Werner Company and filmed at Kaufman Astoria Studios.

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The women claim these companies had knowledge of Cosby's abuse and were integral in accommodating his behavior.

The lawsuit was filed by Lili Bernard, Eden Tirl, Jewel Gittens, Jennifer Thompson, and Cindra Ladd.

Bernard, Tirl, Thompson and Ladd have levied sexual assault allegations in the past. Bernard is also engaged in a lawsuit against Cosby in New Jersey. Three of the women, including Bernard, made appearances on The Cosby Show.

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Bernard alleges Cosby drugged and raped her in two separate incidences in 1990. She said Cosby offered to mentor her, which he offered to other claimants, and then allegedly slipped an unknown substance into her drink while they were in New Jersey.

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The second instance took place in Nevada, when Cosby allegedly did the same thing, except this time Bernard woke up.

"Bill Cosby covered her mouth with his hand and then smothered her entire face with a pillow until Ms. Bernard lost consciousness again," the suit claims.

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Bernard also accuses Cosby of threatening to "blacklist" her if she did not perform sexual acts on him.

Cosby was released from a Pennsylvania prison last year after the state's Supreme Court overturned his 2018 conviction for aggravated indecent assault.

The attorney for the claimants said this lawsuit is an "important step" toward holding Cosby accountable for his actions and he hopes it inspires other survivors to seek justice.

"I also encourage all other survivors to stand up and have their voices heard. Collectively, by holding our abusers accountable for their actions, we can set an example for future generations and make this world a safer place," said Jordan Rutsky, lawyer for the five plaintiffs.

The Adult Survivors Act opens up the opportunity for survivors of sexual abuse to take legal action against their abusers in cases that would otherwise be restricted by the statute of limitations.

The act creates a "one-year window" for victims who were 18 years old or older when they were subjected to abuse with a temporary "revival of time-barred civil lawsuits."

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The act was introduced in 2019 by Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Brad Hoylman and Rep. Linda B. Rosenthal, both Democrats.

According to a news release from the New York Senate, the Adult Survivors Act is similar to the Child Victims Act, which was directed toward victims who were minors.

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