Bill Cosby: details revealed of alleged sexual assaults
Three women who say they were sexually molested by comedian Bill Cosby have appeared at a press conference in Los Angeles, where each tearfully recounted the alleged assaults.
The event on Wednesday afternoon was organised by lawyer Gloria Allred, a long-time women's rights advocate, who told reporters the women were just three of many who had contacted her with similar claims about Mr Cosby. "I have literally lost count," she said.
Two of the women had never spoken about their experiences before. The third, Beth Ferrier, was one of several prepared to testify against the comedian in a 2005 lawsuit accusing Mr Cosby of a sexual assault at his Pennsylvania home. Mr Cosby, now 77, settled that lawsuit out of court. The women were never called to testify, and the terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Both Ms Ferrier and one of the other women at the press conference, who gave her name only as "Chelan", spoke of being drugged and sexually assaulted by Mr Cosby. The third, Helen Hayes, said she had been groped by the comedian at a celebrity tennis tournament in 1973.
Chelan claimed she was 17 at the time of her alleged assault, and working at a Las Vegas hotel. Mr Cosby allegedly called her to his room, saying that he wanted to introduce her to a modelling agent. Instead, she claimed, he drugged and raped her. He finally woke her, hours later, by clapping and telling her: "Daddy says wake up".
Though the statute of limitations on the alleged assaults has run out, meaning Mr Cosby could no longer be prosecuted, Ms Allred challenged him to waive the statute and fight the claims in court. "If Mr Cosby believes all the women are being untruthful, then this is his opportunity to prove it," she said. Alternatively, she suggested Mr Cosby set up a $100m (£64m) fund from which his accusers could derive compensation, arbitrated by an informal panel of retired judges.
The press conference came a day after a 55-year-old California woman filed a civil suit in Los Angeles, claiming that the comedian sexually assaulted her after inviting her to a party at the Playboy Mansion in 1974, when she was 15. Judy Huth said the "traumatic incident, at such a tender age, has caused psychological damage and mental anguish" ever since.
In California, the statute of limitations does not hold if a person can prove they only became aware of the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse within the past three years. More than a dozen other women have made allegations of sexual assault against Mr Cosby in recent weeks, but this is the first time any have seemed capable of pursuing the comedian by legal means.
In interviews, Mr Cosby has refused to address the allegations, which stretch back as far as the 1960s. His lawyers have flatly denied many of the women's claims. Speaking to Florida Today before a recent stand-up performance, the 77-year-old said, "I know people are tired of me not saying anything, but a guy doesn't have to answer to innuendos."
On Monday, Mr Cosby resigned from the board of trustees of his alma mater, Temple University in Philadelphia. On Wednesday, he tweeted for the first time in more than two weeks, to thank Whoopi Goldberg, a co-host of The View, and singer Jill Scott, both of whom have expressed scepticism about the allegations.
Since the new raft of sexual assault claims began to surface last month, Netflix has axed the comedian's planned stand-up special, NBC scrapped a forthcoming sitcom that it was developing with Mr Cosby, and he has cancelled multiple dates on his stand-up tour.