One of Bill Cosby’s multiple alleged victims has officially filed a civil suit against the comedian. Actress Lili Bernard, a former actress on The Cosby Show, filed suit against the comedian in New Jersey federal court on Thursday.
Bernard came forward as one of Cosby’s dozens of alleged assault victims in 2015. She alleges that Cosby drugged and raped her in 1990 under the guise of serving as her acting mentor. The two met on The Cosby Show set when the actress guest-starred on the sitcom in a bit part as Mrs. Minifield in 1984.
Her newly filed lawsuit falls in line with New Jersey’s two-year look-back window, which allows sexual abuse survivors to bring forth civil claims on their attackers even if the assault occurred outside of the traditional statute of limitations. Bernard is reportedly seeking no less than $25 million, according to documents obtained by Yahoo Entertainment.
“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 statement. “Although it occurred long ago, I still live with the fear, pain and shame every day of my life.”
Bernard is being represented by Merson Law, PLLC. A mother of 6, she claims she has suffered anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, nightmares, severe physical pain, and “other permanent injuries” as a direct result of her alleged assault by Cosby and various intimidations and threats he issued thereafter.
According to the lawsuit, Bernard met Cosby on the set of his hit family sitcom, where he offered to become her acting mentor. He reportedly claimed he “looked upon Ms. Bernard as if she were his daughter,” and often spent time stressing “that chastity was a virtue, warned her of the sexual pressures of Hollywood.” He also instructed her that she was welcome to refer to him as “Daddy.”
Upon one such mentoring session at a suite at the Trump Taj Mahal Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, Cosby allegedly prepared Bernard a non-alcoholic beverage. However, upon ingesting it, she reports that she “began to feel symptoms of dizziness, an urge to vomit, and weakness,” before starting to float in and out of consciousness. She claims to have woken at one point to find Cosby naked on top of her, and recalls telling him “no.” Cosby reportedly gave Bernard money and established return transportation to New York for her the next morning.
Documents also detail threats and intimidation tactics from Cosby to Bernard after this assault, and multiple other cited instances of battery, rape, and involuntary drugging between the two. He allegedly stated that he would sue the actress for defamation of character, stifle her acting career, and “erase” her if she reported any of the alleged incidents to police.
Cosby was released from a Pennsylvania corrections facility in June after serving two years of a three to ten-year sentence on charges in relation to an alleged 2004 assault of a similar nature. The state supreme court overturned his guilty ruling due to a prior “non-prosecution agreement” with a previous prosecutor, which should have prevented him from being charged in the case at all.