Bill Cosby is set to be deposed today for the first time since a growing number of sexual abuse allegations have emerged against the actor.
“In any deposition, we are permitted to ask any question that is relevant and that is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence,” said Gloria Allred, the high-profile civil rights lawyer who will be deposing Cosby today. “And so we have wide latitude in any deposition so that we are able to prepare our case for trial.”
Allred’s client, Judy Huth, alleges Cosby, 78, forced her to perform a sex act on him at the Playboy mansion in the mid-70s, when she was just 15 years old.
“It’s a very serious allegation, of course, because it’s an allegation of child sexual abuse,” explained Allred. “And so we have a longer period of time, a longer period of statute of limitations for a lawsuit to be pursued in California for a person who alleges she is an adult survivor of child sexual abuse.”
A judge has ordered the deposition recording and transcript to remain sealed until late December, at least, pending further arguments.
Cosby’s lawyers have denied Huth’s claims in court documents calling them “absolutely false” and “baseless,” and the lawsuit “outrageous.”
“It’s very, very challenging for Judy and I do admire her courage,” said Allred. “She is not going to be present at deposition of Mr. Cosby. She has a right to be there, but she does not wish to be there. She is just relying on her attorneys to proceed and to assert her rights and to vindicate her rights, and that’s what we are committed to doing.”
“I expect that Bill Cosby will evoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination on almost all of the crucial questions that Gloria Allred or any other attorney wants to ask,” said Dan Abrams, Chief Legal Affairs Anchor for ABC News.
Statutes of limitations prevent most of Cosby’s accusers from attempting to file criminal charges or civil claims against him for incidents that allegedly occurred long ago. But that hasn’t prevented many from speaking out. So far, more than 50 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault, drugging, or rape. Their allegations span five decades. Cosby has never been charged with a crime and his attorneys have said he denies the allegations.
Chloe Goins, a 25-year-old Las Vegas model, is one of the youngest women to come forward publicly, accusing Cosby of sexual abuse.
“It's such a traumatic and hard thing to live with,” Goins said. “And for a long time I tried to bury it.”
Her lawyer, Spencer Kuven, believes her claims fall within the statute of limitations, making them a potential game changer in the firestorm surrounding the man who was once “America’s Favorite Dad,” and star of the legendary “Cosby Show.”
“All I can think is, ‘hypocrite,’” said Goins. “Somebody who goes on TV and presents such a wholesome image yet is so sick. It’s hard to – I can't watch it. And that's why I'm here today, to bring out the truth-- the truth about his lies, the truth about his secrets.”
Goins filed a civil lawsuit Tuesday claiming Cosby drugged and assaulted her in 2008 when she was just a teenager.
“It's tragic that it happened to me when I was so young,” she said, “just coming into womanhood.”
Goins’ lawyer says Cosby offered her a drink at a party at the Playboy mansion in 2008.
“Chloe had a few sips of the drink and began feeling nauseous and dizzy," said Kuven.
He says Cosby then offered to escort her to a bedroom. “And on their way to the bedroom, Chloe blacked out,” Kuven claims. “She doesn't remember anything after that point until waking up with no clothes on, laying on her back in a bed. And at the time she wakes up, she felt that her chest was wet and sticky as if somebody had been licking on it.”
Kuven says, “She then noticed that Mr. Cosby was down at the foot of the bed and was biting one of her toes,” and that Cosby then left the room.
“There's a lotta shame in the act of what happened,” said Goins. “And it's an embarrassing thing that happened to me.”
Goins did not report the alleged incident to police until January 2015. The L.A. Police Department turned over the results of their investigation to the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office just last week, and they are now deliberating on whether or not to charge Cosby criminally.
“I decided to come public and come forward and relive everything that happened to me-- because of the other women,” said Goins, “all the other women that have been abused by Mr. Cosby. And I would like to see justice for all of us."
Her lawyers now believe she has a valid claim to bring forward both criminal and civil action against Cosby.
“The statute in California's very clear,” said Kuven. “She has eight years after age of majority, eight years after turning 18 to bring her claim up until age 26. Chloe right now is 25 years old. So, she is, we believe, squarely within the statues of limitations."
Cosby’s attorneys told ABC News they had “no comment” on Goins’ civil suit. But earlier in January, a lawyer for Cosby said Cosby wasn’t in L.A. when the alleged incident occurred, saying in statement, “We will be providing documentary evidence to the appropriate authorities which conclusively establishes Mr. Cosby’s whereabouts on August 9 and for the preceding and succeeding days.”
Goins’ attorney says the disputed date was a false assumption.
“She has never publicly said that she was there on any specific date,” said Kuven. Goins’ civil suit comes on the heels as another accuser, Judy Huth, is making legal headway in the closed-door deposition lead by her attorney Gloria Allred today.
“We are looking for accountability, and we are not going to stop until we get it,” said Allred who currently represents up to 26 accusers of Cosby, many of whom have allegations that fall out of the statutes of limitations.
“Many of the accusers, however, felt that of course even though it’s too late to pursue their lawsuits in a conventional court, it is not too late to pursue their accusations and make them in the court of public opinion.”
In September, over a dozen accusers spoke out in A&E’s documentary “Cosby: The Women Speak.” Several of the women interviewed alleged the comedian offered mentorship or career coaching, and that later Cosby assaulted or attempted to assault them, after they drank a beverage that, they, say, rendered them unconscious.
Among those interviewed was legendary supermodel Beverly Johnson, who said she was invited to Cosby’s brownstone to rehearse in the mid 80’s, when she was in her early 30’s.
“He said, ‘There's an exercise you do in method acting… You know, I want you to act like you're drunk,’” explained Johnson.
Next, she said, Cosby insisted she try a cappuccino.
“Immediately I felt woozy,” she said.
“Everything was spinning. And I was, you know, dizzy, and I knew I had been drugged. There's no doubt in my mind.”
“He puts one hand around my waist,” Johnson continues, “And I remember cocking my head and saying, "You're a mother******, aren't you?"
According to Johnson, Cosby escorted her out of the house and threw her into a taxi.
“I was so disappointed,” she said. “It was like a family member had done something to me…I knew that the kind of person I was dealing with would destroy me.”
“Even though there is no verdict yet in any civil case filed against him by any of the accusers. I think it's a fair conclusion that, in fact, in the court of public opinion he has lost that battle,” said Allred.
And it’s the many other women, who, Goins says, ultimately gave her the courage to come forward as well.
“I buried it for a long time,” said Goins. “And I'm not sure how I would've been able to come out if these brave women didn't come forward and find the strength to tell their story.”
Goins’ civil lawsuit also includes a list of 40 other Cosby accusers.
“We felt it was very important to give a voice to those victims, all 40 women that we were able to identify-- their voices, their stories-- and be able to talk to them in this litigation so that they can speak on the record for the first time,” said Kuven.
“I'm trying to heal myself from everything that's happened,” said Goins. “And coming out about it and speaking about it, it does help. It's been very hard.”
While she says speaking out has been empowering, Goins says she wants more.
“I feel he needs to see justice,” she said. “I'd like to see him behind bars for everything he's done.”