Three more women came forward Wednesday to allege drugging and sexual abuse by comedian Bill Cosby, bringing the number of allegations of past inappropriate conduct by the now 77-year-old icon to over 30.
Attorney Gloria Allred appeared at a press conference alongside the latest accusers, and she has publicly supported other alleged victims in the past. Although Cosby has never been charged with a crime, the three new accusers could potentially join an ongoing defamation lawsuit, spearheaded by Allred, against the embattled comedy legend. Each women described in detail what has become an eerily familiar scenario involving drugging which eventually lead to an alleged sexual assault.
According to TMZ, the statute of limitations has expired in each of the three women’s cases.
This press conference comes on the heels of a strong defense of Cosby by his longtime TV wife Phylicia Rashad. The award-winning actress had largely stayed silent on the controversy that has been swirling around her former co-star since last fall. But in a recent interview with ShowBiz411 that posted late Tuesday she lashed out at his critics and accusers.
“Forget these women,” Rashad reportedly said. “What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it’s orchestrated. I don’t know why or who’s doing it, but it’s the legacy. And it’s a legacy that is so important to the culture.”
In her Wednesday press conference, Allred rebutted Rashad. “Phylicia, I vow to you that I will not forget these women, because women matter. They deserve respect and dignity,” Allred said. “Phylicia, you should be supporting these women rather than joining Cosby’s paid attack dogs who are trying to undermine them in any way they can.”
“The Cosby Show” actress later refuted some of the remarks attributed to her by ShowBiz411 in an exclusive ABC News interview. “That was a misquote,” she said. “What I said is that this is not about the women, this is about the obliteration of legacy,” Rashad added. “I am a woman I would never say such a thing.”
Rashad, who starred as Cosby’s wife on “The Cosby Show” from 1984 to 1992 and “Cosby” from 1996 to 2000, specifically questioned the legitimacy of allegations made by former supermodels Beverly Johnson and Janice Dickinson, who both have spoken publicly about traumatic run-ins with Cosby. “Oh, please,” Rashad reportedly responded when their names came up. She went on to defend Cosby’s wife Camille as “tough woman, a smart woman” who is “no pushover” and suggested that “someone is determined to keep Bill Cosby off TV.”
Actress Keshia Knight Pulliam, who played Rashad and Cosby’s precocious daughter Rudy during the entire “Cosby Show” run, also spoke out on the controversy this week during a “TODAY” interview Monday in the aftermath of her departure from Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” reality television show.
“What I can say is this: I wasn’t there. No one was there except for the two people to know exactly what happened. All I can speak to is that man that I know and I love. The fact that he has been such an example – and you can’t take away from the great that he has done – you know the amount – the millions and millions of dollars that he has given back to colleges and education and just what he did with ‘The Cosby Show’ and how groundbreaking that was,” she told “TODAY” co-host Savannah Guthrie.
“You know ultimately they are just that – allegations,” she added.
Actress Raven-Symone, who appeared on the later seasons of “The Cosby Show” as a very young child denied speculation that Cosby was ever inappropriate with her on social media last November. “I was NOT [taken] advantage of by Mr. Cosby when I was on the Cosby Show! I was practically a baby on that show and this is truly a disgusting rumor that I want no part of! Everyone on that show treated me with nothing but kindness. Now keep me out of this!,” she wrote in an Instagram post.
Previously, Cosby’s wife, Camille, and his daughter, Evin, have released statements defending him and questioning the validity of accusers’ stories. Camille Cosby sparked even more controversy by comparing her husband’s situation to the now-disputed Rolling Stone article about an alleged gang rape that took place on the University of Virginia campus in 2012.
Despite the words of support from co-stars, family and a handful of other celebrities, the chorus of prominent critics has grown more vocal, too. Hollywood producer-director Judd Apatow made headlines recently by calling out fans who have remained stalwart in their support of Cosby despite the mounting allegations. It is not extortion when most of the accusers do not want anything,” Apatow tweeted at a fan who was defending Cosby as “innocent until proven” guilty during a Twitter chat.
“I always wonder why some people try so hard to not believe women who have been assaulted,” Apatow added. “What is the root of that?”
Cosby himself has for the most part maintained a self-imposed policy of silence on the allegations. He did say in a December 2014 interview with the predominately African-American publication The Washington Statesman, that his attorneys say was recorded surreptitiously, that he believed black news outlets would remain “neutral” in their coverage of the scandal.
“I only expect the black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism, and when you do that, you have to go in with a neutral mind.” Cosby said. Cosby has previously denied past allegations and his attorney Marty Singer has characterized the recent flurry of claims as “fantastical” and “unsubstantiated.”
The comedian is scheduled to appear Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for scheduled stand-up performances at Centre in the Square venue in Kitchener, Ontario. Cosby made a statement Tuesday conceding that there may be disruptions during his routine, but that intended to “give my fans the show of their life.”