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Bill Cosby is facing new civil lawsuits from women who have accused him of decades-old sexual misconduct, brought about by states passing laws that expand the window for sexual abuse accusers to take action.
Victoria Valentino, a former Playboy model, has publicly accused Cosby of drugging her and raping her in 1969 and filed a suit against him Thursday, now that California lawmakers have temporarily allowed sexual abuse lawsuits that exceed the 10 year statute of limitations.
Valentino, 80, says she never thought when she came forward against Cosby that she’d ever see any form of tangible justice in her case.
“No matter how much of a settlement comes out of this, and if, you know, if nothing comes out of it, it doesn’t matter because it will never replace what was taken from me,” Valentino told NBC News.
All details shared by Valentino to NBC News about the alleged incident are also contained in the lawsuit.
She said she met Cosby in 1969 when she went for an audition following the death of her 6-year-old son. She said she remembers telling Cosby about the death, a drowning, but didn’t hear from him again until she and her roommate ran into him at Café Figaro in Los Angeles.
“I was surprised but he saw me sitting there crying because I was having a hell of a day,” she said, referring to her grief over her son.
Cosby then offered to pay for a spa for her and her roommate, Valentino recalled, and offered to take them to dinner afterward. Valentino said she didn’t want to go, but it appeared Cosby, who had just starred in the hit show “I Spy” at the time, was seemingly sincere in his offer.
“We weren’t looking for a date, but you know when the big star of this popular television series is offering to reach out to you seemingly in sympathy, you know, you kind of can’t turn it down,” she said.
At dinner, Cosby offered her and her roommate a pill and said it would make them “all feel better,” Valentino said. She believes he faked taking his own pill and says he put a second one directly in her and her roommate’s mouths.
They began to feel unwell and asked to go home, Valentino recalled. But instead of driving them home, she says Cosby took them to a townhome where he said he wanted to show them his “I Spy” awards. Valentino thinks she must have passed out after Cosby got them out of the car because she says she woke up in a room with Cosby sitting by her roommate.
“He looked like he was getting ready to pounce on a little mouse,” she said. “And then I saw a bulge in this pants and I knew he was going to rape her while she was unconscious. I just felt very protective of her and I tried to distract him.”
She said she began grasping at Cosby, who was out of her reach, and that she couldn’t quite form words in her state. Cosby then came over to her, she said, seemingly angry at her attempts to stop him.
When Valentino stood up, she said she immediately felt her legs collapse beneath her and ended up kneeling in front of Cosby, who was on a loveseat. Cosby then orally and vaginally raped her, according to her retelling and her lawsuit.
Andrew Wyatt, Cosby’s spokesperson, in a statement on Thursday accused Valentino of having no “proof or facts” and going from “town to town” with her allegations. He also alleged that the “look back window” legislation that allowed her suit to be possible was a violation of Cosby’s constitutional rights. Cosby has consistently denied all allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
“What graveyard can Mr. Cosby visit, in order to dig up potential witnesses to testify on his behalf?” Wyatt said. “America is continuing to see that this a formula to make sure that no more Black Men in America accumulate the American Dream that was secured by Mr. Cosby.”
Valentino pushed back on allegations that Cosby, who has been accused of sexual abuse by 60 women, had anything to do with Cosby being Black.
“Andrew Wyatt has tried to make it seem as though it’s about race, but it’s not about race,” she said. “[Cosby] was an equal opportunity rapist and probably the most prolific serial rapist of the 20th century. This is about rape, not race.”
Cosby was convicted in Pennsylvania on three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault in 2018 of drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004, but the case was overturned in 2021. The state’s supreme court vacated the sentence after finding that he was denied protection against self-incrimination.
With his conviction in Pennsylvania overturned, Cosby now has no criminal convictions.
“Look back window” laws and possible lawsuits in Nevada
Valentino’s lawsuit was filed under a new California law that created a window of time where adult victims of sexual assault can file for civil damages even if the statute of limitations has expired. The law was an expansion of previous legislation that extended statute of limitations for minors with allegations of sexual abuse.
When she learned about the change that would allow her to face Cosby in court, Valentino said she was absolutely stunned. But she also said she knew she had to see her allegations through.
“There is no statute of limitations on murder, and rape is a murder of the soul,” Valentino said. “It’s a life sentence for the victim, so why should the rapist get any less? It’s time for a reckoning.”
Similar legislation, referred to as look back windows, has passed in New York and New Jersey. Five women filed suit against Cosby in New York in December accusing him of sexual assault, which his representatives have denied.
Cosby was also found civilly liable last year of molesting Judy Huth at the Playboy Mansion in 1975, when she was just 16 years old, though his attorneys called her a liar.
Nevada passed a law, SB129, eliminating the civil statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases involving adults which was signed on Wednesday, a substantial change to the prior two year limit. This change is also likely to bring forth additional legal challenges for Cosby, as accuser Lise-Lotte Lublin is a Nevada resident.
Lublin has publicly accused Cosby of drugging her at a hotel in Las Vegas in 1989. Her husband, Benjamin Lublin, said he was told about the incident when they first started dating 23 years ago, but they both saw the situation in a new light after Janice Dickinson first came forward accusing Cosby of assault.
His wife decided to file a police report in 2014.
“I had to sit outside and when she came out she was crying,” Lublin said. “I asked her, ‘Well, what’s wrong?’ And she said they can’t do anything. … And the detective turned to me and said it’s because of the statute of limitations. I said, ‘What the hell is the statute of limitations?’”
The couple, both born and raised in Nevada, have spent years supporting legislation to expand statutes of limitations in their state. When a similar version of SB129 in 2019 failed to pass, Lublin said they almost gave up.
But then the couple went to support Huth in her California case, he said.
“I saw Judy in the court with Lise and we both saw how strong she was and how she was fighting, you know, to seek justice,” Lublin said. “That reenergized us… Because once I saw that, if this was possible in California, then it is possible in Nevada.”
Nevada State Sen. Lisa Krasner, a primary sponsor of SB129, said she was motivated to make sure victims and survivors of sexual assault could seek justice. The bill, which passed unanimously in the state’s senate, would allow people time to come to terms with what happened to them and seek justice, Krasner said.
“They still have to go in front of a courtroom in front of a judge and a jury of their peers,” Krasner said. “They still have to have evidence. They still have to prove their case. So there’s a lot of hurdles they must cross but it keeps the courtroom doors open so that they have the ability to bring their case if they want to.”
It’s important that lawmakers work to ensure people feel that they are able to seek justice in their cases, Krasner said.
When asked about the Nevada law and the possibility of another suit against Cosby, Wyatt said it was “interesting” that these laws were being passed in the states of residence of Cosby’s accusers.
“Mr. Cosby is a citizen of these United States but these judges and lawmakers are consistently allowing these civil suits to flood their dockets — knowing that these women are not fighting for victims — but for their addiction to massive amounts of media attention and greed,” Wyatt said. Cosby has previously denied the Lublin allegations.
Lublin said that he and his wife have spoken to an attorney regarding a future suit against Cosby, as well as reaching out to fellow Cosby accusers who might have interest in a civil case. He also supported Valentino, who he called a friend, in her own case in California.
Lublin described his wife and the other women who have come forward against Cosby as warriors.
“This is personal because this happened to my wife and we’ve been seeking justice for so many years because of Cosby,” Lublin said. “And this is personal because for decades, upon decades, upon decades in Nevada, Bill Cosby has hid behind the statute of limitations. And that day is over and we’re coming for him.”