Actress Lili Bernard has sued Bill Cosby for $225 million, alleging he drugged and sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions starting in 1990.
In court documents obtained by TheWrap that were filed Thursday in New Jersey, Bernard alleges that she first encountered Cosby on the set of “The Cosby Show,” where the comedian offered to mentor her acting career. The suit details how over the next several weeks, Cosby sought information about her life and promised to “feature her in a principle speaking role on ‘The Cosby Show'” if she “worked hard and followed his directions.”
During their mentoring sessions, “he warned her of the sexual pressures of Hollywood” and considered Bernard to be “like a daughter,” even offering her to “call him Daddy,” according to the suit.
The first instance of assault, according to the lawsuit, occurred during a vocal exercise in July 1990, when Cosby allegedly “grabbed her ribcage and diaphragm without her permission … and then suddenly, violently, and without permission grabbed and squeezed Ms. Bernard’s breasts.”
The suit goes on to allege that about a month later, Cosby drugged and raped Bernard at the Trump Taj Mahal resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It adds that he “persuaded, induced, enticed and/or coerced” her under the guise of an arranged meeting with a producer who Cosby said would help further her career.
Once in the hotel suite, Cosby allegedly prepared a non-alcoholic drink for Bernard; soon after, she experienced symptoms of “dizziness, an urge to vomit and weakness.” She then vomited and lost consciousness. Per the lawsuit, when she came to, Cosby started undressing her despite her repeatedly saying “No.” It then describes how she awoke to find him naked, raping her, after which she fell unconscious again. The next time she awoke, the suit states, she was in a hot tub or jacuzzi and was unable to move until the next day, when she woke up in a bed.
Following these events, Cosby allegedly told Bernard that should she turn to the police, he would go to the police himself to report her for spreading false accusations and sue her for defamation. The suit alleges that Cosby “assaulted, drugged and battered Ms. Bernard on additional occasions.”
The lawsuit includes four counts with $25 million sought for each with an additional $125 million sought for punitive damages.
This is not the first time that Bernard’s allegations against Cosby have come to light. The actress spoke out in 2015 about how Cosby repeatedly drugged and raped her as she prepared to appear in an episode of “The Cosby Show.” She appeared at a press conference alongside attorney Gloria Allred and Sammie Mays, a writer who stated that Cosby had drugged and raped her in the mid-’80s under similar circumstances.
During their last encounter in 1992, Bernard stated at the press conference, Cosby had said, “As far as I’m concerned, Bernard, you’re dead. Do you hear me? You’re dead, Bernard. You don’t exist, I never wanna see your face again. Now get the hell out of here!” In the months following that meeting, Bernard said she became suicidal “as a result of what Mr. Cosby did to me.”
The lawsuit alleges that Cosby threatened to “erase” her if she reported the attacks, and that she “suffered psychological, physical, and mental trauma” as a result.
Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt called the lawsuit “just another attempt to abuse the legal process by opening up the flood gates for people, who never presented an ounce of evidence, proof, truth and/or facts, in order to substantiate their alleged allegations.”
“Mr. Cosby continues to maintain steadfast in his innocence and will vigorously fight ANY alleged allegations waged against him, and is willing and able to take this fight to the highest court in these United States of America,” Wyatt said in a statement.
Cosby was released from prison in June after his 2018 conviction for drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004 was overturned by Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court. More than 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault.
“I have waited a long time to be able to pursue my case in court and I look forward to being heard and to hold Cosby accountable for what he did to me,” Bernard said in a news release. “Although it occurred long ago, I still live with the fear, pain and shame every day of my life.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.