Passage of time makes proving Cosby claims tough

By Anthony McCartney
AP Entertainment Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Any case against Bill Cosby - who in recent weeks has seen a flurry of decades-old sexual assault allegations, a lawsuit and a police investigation into a molestation claim - would rely on conflicting testimony, and possibly jurors' emotions, legal experts say.

In a civil trial, Cosby might have to face testimony from any of the more than 15 women who have accused him of various forms of sexual misconduct dating back at least 40 years, said Cynthia Bowman, a Cornell Law School professor who has specialized in how the law treats women. While any case dating back decades would hinge on memories that have faded with time, Bowman said she's listened to some of Cosby's accusers speak out - and they could be credible witnesses.

"It strikes me that memory for a traumatic event like this seems to be pretty stark," Bowman said. Most of these allegations involved "relatively young and impressionable girls," she said. "There's an element of shock and betrayal of trust."

Since the allegations of sexual assault by the comedian and actor bubbled to the surface again in early November, only one woman, Judy Huth, has sued, claiming Cosby molested her 40 years ago when she was 15. Huth also gave a statement to Los Angeles police.

Cosby, 77, has never been charged with a crime and settled the only other sexual assault case filed against him. In that case filed by former Temple University worker Andrea Constand in 2005, numerous women were prepared to testify against Cosby with their own stories of alleged abuse. The most recent round of accusations range from claims of being groped to being drugged and raped.

Huth or any accuser whose case reached the trial stage could be seen favorably by a jury, said Jerry Reisman, a civil litigation attorney in Garden City, New York.

Published: Tue, Dec 09, 2014