Gloria Allred, the feminist attorney famous for taking on high-profile cases and making them even more spectacular, held a press conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday regarding the rape allegations against Bill Cosby. Flanked by three tearful accusers, Allred said there has not been a single day since the deluge of sexual assault allegations against Cosby began that she hasn't been contacted by a new accuser.
When asked how many women have sought her counsel, Allred said, "I literally have lost count."
Cosby, 77, who has never been charged with a crime, has been under siege for the past month as previous rape allegations — along with new ones — have arisen. As a result, NBC has scrapped a nascent sitcom with him, and Netflix has shelved a comedy special that was to air at the end of November. A number of his tour dates have also been canceled.
On Tuesday, a woman filed a lawsuit against Cosby, saying he sexually assaulted her in 1974 when she was 15 at the Playboy Mansion. But because the other public accusations so far have taken place in the distant past with people past the age of consent, the statutes of limitations have run out on them, leaving the women with no criminal or civil recourse.
That is what Allred said she would like to fix on Wednesday. In a conference room packed with reporters at her law firm on Wilshire Boulevard, the blue-suited Allred read from a statement in which she put forth "two new solutions to this public dilemma, and a way to determine if Bill Cosby is a saint or a sexual predator."
The first proposal is that Cosby waive the statute of limitations "for any woman who claims that she is a victim." She cited the Catholic Church as a precedent. The second proposal is that Cosby put $100 million aside, and any woman with a claim against him would "appear before a panel of retired judges who would serve as arbitrators to determine the merits of each claim."
The three Cosby accusers at the press conference all read statements also, telling their stories. The first, Beth Ferrier, said she had an affair with Cosby "in the mid-'80s." After she broke it off, Ferrier said she went to see him perform, and was then drugged and sexually assaulted by him. Ferrier told her story to the National Enquirer in 2005, but instead of seeing it published there, Cosby gave the publication an exclusive interview. In court documents recently reported by the New York Times, Cosby admitted in a deposition that he gave the Enquirer the interview in exchange for the magazine not publishing Ferrier's account.
Ferrier — who was overcome with emotion at the press conference, and had to stop speaking several times as she delivered her statement — became Jane Doe No. 5 in Andrea Constand's sexual assault lawsuit against Cosby that he settled in 2006.
Helen Hayes, the second accuser, said that Cosby groped her in a restaurant in 1974. "He reached over my shoulder and grabbed my right breast. I was stunned and angry," she said.
The last woman to speak was named Chelan. She said that in 1986 — when she was a 17-year-old aspiring model working at the Las Vegas Hilton — her stepmother sent Cosby photographs of her. Chelan said he called her at home, and they arranged to meet in a hotel room. "He gave me a blue pill," she said, and a shot of amaretto. She recalled a man coming into the room, taking pictures of her (telling her to "lose 10 pounds"), and leaving. She alleged Cosby then led her into the bedroom. "He laid down next to me on bed and began pinching my left nipple and humping my leg while he was grunting," she said.
Chelan said Cosby woke her by saying, "Daddy says wake up." She said he gave her $1,500 and also invited her to see him perform. "My grandmother really wanted to go. I did not, but I went with her and heckled him. As a result, I was fired from my job," she said.
After the three accusers spoke, Allred took questions from reporters. She was asked how she had vetted the women, and said that we could listen to them and "you can decide for yourself." She would not comment on whether any of the women had reported their stories to law enforcement. When asked what she would do if she were representing Cosby, Allred said, "Under no circumstances would I ever give advice to Bill Cosby. Nor would he ever be my client."
Martin D. Singer, Cosby's attorney, did not respond to a request from BuzzFeed News to comment on Allred's proposals and the accusations. Singer also did not answer BuzzFeed News on Tuesday about the lawsuit, nor has he made any public statement defending Cosby since Nov. 21.
Kate Aurthur is the chief Los Angeles correspondent for BuzzFeed News. Aurthur covers the television and film industries.
Contact Kate Aurthur at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.