By Michael Virtanen
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ALBANY, N.Y. _ Lawyers for dozens of women who have accused Bill Cosby of sex assault or attempted molestation over the past 40 years said Wednesday that their clients are grateful that a prosecutor in Pennsylvania has finally brought criminal charges against the comedian.
Attorney Spencer Kuvin represents model Chloe Goins, who alleges Cosby incapacitated her with a drink and assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles in 2008. He said possible charges are still pending with the district attorney’s office there, but the statute of limitations will run out in the spring.
“She’s very happy charges were brought,” Kuvin said. “She’s hopeful they’ll also bring charges in her case in L.A.”
Cosby has denied all the allegations against him, and his lawyer called the criminal charge unjustified. Most of his accusers allege that he gave them pills or drinks that made them dizzy or knocked them out, and that he subsequently removed their clothes and raped or groped them.
Goins’ federal lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles in October, seeks punitive damages for a variety of problems she says she has endured, including mental anguish, loss of self-esteem and dignity.
The timing of the announcement of the criminal charge comes just as numerous depositions were scheduled to begin in a Massachusetts civil case against the comedian. Camille Cosby, Cosby’s wife, was scheduled to be deposed on Jan. 6, and Cosby was scheduled to be deposed on Feb. 22.
Joan Tarshis, of Woodstock, New York, who accused Cosby of drugging and attacking her when she was breaking into comedy writing in 1969, declined to comment Wednesday. She referred questions to Joseph Cammarata, a Washington-based attorney who is representing her in the Massachusetts defamation case that Tarshis and six other women filed against the comedian.
Cammarata called the criminal charge a positive development for the civil cases.
“I would expect you’ll hear from the women who are similarly situated an expression of gratitude to the prosecutors for taking the bold step of bringing this case,” he said. “Criminal charges do change the tone and tenor of any dispute and this is no exception.”
Cammarata called a criminal proceeding “an appropriate forum and he’ll have an opportunity to defend himself.”
Another one of the seven plaintiffs is Barbara Bowman, an artist who alleged Cosby raped her in the 1980s when she was a teenager and aspiring actress. She declined to comment Wednesday.
The seven women say Cosby and his representatives defamed them by calling them liars and saying their allegations were false. Cosby countersued, denying the allegations and saying the women were lying for financial gain.
Gloria Allred, an attorney who represents 29 accusers, said it’s “unprecedented for so many women to allege that they are victims of one rich, powerful famous man.”
She added: “Some of them have been very upset that there’s never been a criminal prosecution.”
Kathy McKee, a casting director who alleges Cosby raped her in a Michigan hotel room in the early 1970s when she an actress, said Wednesday she’s relieved, noting she and other women who have spoken out have been criticized. She believes there are other victims, possibly many, who are probably afraid like she was.
“I’d like to see the rest of the women come out now,” McKee said. “It’s a sad story all the way around.”
Associated Press writer Larry Neumeister in New York and John Rogers in Los Angeles contributed to this report.