Bill Cosby allegations: Fresh claims of sexual assault emerge

AP

Fresh allegations of sexual assault have been made against American actor and comedian, Bill Cosby.

On Tuesday, model Janice Dickinson became Cosby's most high profile accuser after telling Entertainment Tonight that the now 77-year-old sexually assaulted her in 1982.

Dickinson said she is coming forward now "because it's the right thing to do".

"Stuffing feelings of rape and my unresolved issues with this incident has drove me into a life of trying to hurt myself because I didn't have counsel and I was afraid," she added. "I was afraid of the consequences. I was afraid of being labelled a whore or a slut and trying to sleep my way to the top of a career that never took place."

Several women have come forward with claims in the past, though the accusations have never reached court. In 2004, Andrea Constand filed a lawsuit accusing Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her, and 13 others agreed to testify with similar claims. However, a settlement was reached out of court and the case was never heard.

Two other women later made similar allegations in 2005, citing incidents that allegedly took place in 1969 and 1984.

The accusations came to light again last month when a video of comedian Hannibal Buress referring to Cosby as a rapist during one of his sketches went viral.

Artist Barbara Bowman has since repeated her earlier claims that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her over a two year period beginning in 1985 when she was 17. The then-aspiring actress has described him as a "father-figure".

Journalist Joan Tarshis has also now accused Cosby of rape.

The actor's lawyers have vehemently denied the accusations, however. Lawyer Marty Singer issued a statement on Tuesday branding Dickinson's allegations "a fabricated lie".

"There is a glaring contradiction between what she is claiming now for the first time and what she wrote in her own book and what she told the media back in 2002," Singer said.

A statement released last weekend by another of Cosby's representatives, John P Schmitt, has now been removed from his official website. It described the allegations as "discredited" and "The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true."

Cosby has thus-far refused to make any comment on the claims. AP released a video on Wednesday taken from an interview with the actor in which he declines to discuss the matter, and asks for his refusal not to be used by the news agency.

"I would appreciate it if it was scuttled," the actor says. "I think if you want to consider yourself to be serious then it will not appear anywhere."

Cosby has been married for 50 years, and discussed his Christian faith in an interview with the Christian Post in 2011. He praised America for its religious heritage, saying: "When we look at the settling of this country we see a Bible in hand and God. Every Thanksgiving has God and the peacefulness of gratitude. It was important when the Twin Towers were hit and the sorrow with them that the first thing Congress did was sing 'God Bless America'."

He also said that "God has a sense of humour".

"He must also have some love. We're still here and there are still great things that go on. There are great doctors who discover how to separate twins and how to put together a human being to walk again after it's said he won't. Those are all there as signs," Cosby added.

"Never forget that the devil is there 24/7 too. He's very, very busy. When my son was murdered people asked me how I felt about God and what had happened to my son. I said 'no, you can't go there. You have to understand that there is a devil and he works 24/7. Whoever murdered our son was with the devil.'"

NBC and Netfilix both announced this week that they are pulling projects involving Cosby. He is still due to perform at a sold-out show at the King Centre for Performing Arts in Florida this Friday.

Lifestyle