In what has become an on-going saga, Bill Cosby’s legal team has launched the latest land-mine when it comes to the sexual assault allegations that the comedian is facing. His team has now brought lawsuits against seven women, claiming that the sexual assault allegations made by them have damaged Cosby’s reputation so much that plans for a new family comedy set to air on NBC had been derailed.
And just this week, another lawsuit against supermodel Beverly Johnson was filed. In it, Cosby’s team alleges that the first African-American supermodel lied when she accused Cosby of drugging her and trying to rape her in the mid-1980s.
Sexual Assault Allegations Against Cosby
In the highly publicized case against Cosby, more than 40 women have publicly come forward to accuse Cosby, 78, of sexual assault charges that allegedly took place over the last four decades. Most of the women also allege that the comedian drugged them in order to take advantage of them.
Cosby has denied the claims, and many of those alleging the misconduct have not filed formal claims. This is mostly due to the fact that the statute of limitations for the alleged misconduct has run out in just about every state that the accusations stem from.
Statute of Limitations, Tolling Provisions, and Delayed Discovery
A statute of limitation is a law that forbids prosecutors from charging someone with a crime committed over a certain number of years. This law is to ensure that convictions occur only upon evidence (physical or eyewitness) that has not deteriorated over time.
When it comes to allegations of sexual abuse, there are a number of “tolling provisions.” Tolling provisions are suspensions to the statute. This means that when these provisions are available, they can void the statute of limitation.
One such tolling provision is delayed discovery, and in Cosby’s case, where the allegations also allege that Cosby drugged them, it can be a powerful provision.
Delayed discovery is when a victim’s memory of the event is repressed. The statute is “un-suspended” when the victim consciously remembers the sexual abuse that happened. So if a person is sexually assaulted, but does not remember it due to psychological distress or drugging, but then later remembers it, they are able to bring assault charges.
But if a victim has at any point shown that he or she was aware of the misconduct at the time of the crime, or even shortly after, this provision cannot be used to suspend the statute.
When a person alleging misconduct realizes the abuse, they on average have about three years to file a sexual assault claim. That length of time is dependent on the state’s laws in which the complaint is filed.
Cosby and Delayed Discovery
It seems that a number of women have only recently come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct by Cosby. But if most of the women alleging the misconduct realized that the misconduct had occurred shortly after, then this tolling provision will not apply to any of them. This could be a strong defense for Cosby’s team when it comes to dismissing any of the allegations.
Beverly Johnson and New Lawsuits
It seems Cosby’s defense team might be handling some of these allegations in another way - by bringing lawsuits that allege defamation. Such as the lawsuit filed this week against the first African-American supermodel, Beverly Johnson. Johnson, 63, first made her accusations against Cosby in late 2014 in Vanity Fair magazine.
In the article, Johnson writes that during the mid-1980’s she visited Cosby’s residence. During the visit, the two engaged in some acting exercises, one of which included “acting drunk.” Cosby urged her to have a cappuccino drink.
“I knew by the second sip of the drink Cosby had given me that I’d been drugged – and drugged good,” she wrote. According to Johnson, she struggled so much that Cosby removed her from his house and placed her in a cab to send her home.
Johnson also publicly discussed the allegations on television shows, including “The View,” “Nightline” and “Good Morning America.” The incident was also described in Johnson’s 2015 autobiography, “The Face That Changed It All.”
Defamation Lawsuit Against Johnson
The defamation lawsuit filed by Cosby’s team alleges Johnson’s sexual assault allegations are an attempt to revive her waning career and sell copies of her memoir, and that Cosby and Johnson were never alone together in his house and that the comedian never drugged her. The lawsuit also claims that Johnson’s allegations were made to intentionally inflict emotional distress and that “her story is a lie.”
Johnson Responds to Cosby Lawsuit
“I am aware of the statements from Bill Cosby,” said Johnson, responding to the new allegations of defamation. “In cases of rape and abuse, abusers will do whatever they can to intimidate and weaken their victims to force them to stop fighting. I ask for your support of all of the victims involved.”
Cosby’s lawyer, Monique Pressley, responded to Johnson’s statement, calling it “an opportunistic attempt to resuscitate her own career and benefit herself financially from the wave of media attention surrounding her false allegations against Mr. Cosby. …”
In the lawsuit that Cosby has brought, the comedian is seeking unspecified damages, an injunction that will require Johnson retract the statements she has made, and also remove the chapter of her memoir that discusses Cosby. The removal will need to be done for future printings of the book as well as unsold copies.
Additional Lawsuit Against Renita Hill
In addition to this week’s lawsuit, last week Cosby’s lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit that was filed last October by Renita Hill. Hill is another one of Cosby’s accusers. The two appeared together in the 1980s in the educational videos “Picture Pages.” Hill was a teenager when the two appeared on the show together.
The lawsuit she brought alleges that during the years of 1983-1987, Cosby would often give Hill a beverage and press her to drink it. According to the lawsuit, “On the majority of these occasions, upon imbibing the drink, Renita would lose consciousness and wake up in her room the next day, oftentimes nude, disheveled, confused, and disoriented.”
Cosby’s lawyers responded to the accusations with claims that everything Hill reported was untrue. Hill decided to file for defamation. The latest motion filed by Cosby’s lawyers claim Hill’s complaint does not meet the bar for defamation.
Facing Sexual Misconduct Allegations
As the numerous sexual misconduct allegations against Cosby shows, these types of allegations should not be taken lightly. Although it’s not clear how these latest rounds of lawsuits will play out, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself if you find that you are being accused of rape or sexual molestation.
There are some important steps to remember if you have been charged with a sex crime:
- Do not speak with police or any other investigation team unless you have secured legal Representation. While police will often say they are just conducting an objective investigation, remember that they are trying to build a case at all times. Anything you say can be held against you.
- If you have already spoken with police or other investigators do not continue to do so
- Do not confide in friends or relatives until you have legal representation
- Do not wait to secure legal representation. These allegations will not fade away or just disappear.
You will want to follow all the legal rules and precautions you can, and the best way you can protect yourself is by working with an experienced defense attorney such as Sevens Legal, APC.
Working with Sevens Legal, APC
After you have discussed the specifics of your case, your Sevens Legal, APC, will let you know your case’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as any possible risks associated with punishment and convictions you may face. Your Sevens Legal, APC, defense attorney can help negotiate a plea deal or whether the best course of action is to move forward to trial, while working constantly for your best interests.
Sevens Legal, APC, criminal defense lawyers put our experience to work for you. Every defendant deserves a zealous defense. To schedule your free consultation with one of our Sevens Legal, APC, criminal defense lawyers, call (619) 430-2355. Contact Sevens Legal, APC, today for a free consultation.
Contact Sevens Legal, APC, today for a free consultation.
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