Artist and actress Lili Bernard has filed a sexual assault lawsuit in the state of New Jersey against Bill Cosby.
Bernard is just another of the dozens of women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault and rape.
Most know Lili Bernard for her role as Mrs. Minifield on the final season of The Cosby Show. Now, she hopes to be known for trailblazing a nation-wide movement for legal reform and for bringing Bill Cosby to justice.
Bernard and her lawyers, Jordan Merson and Jordan Rutsky, discussed her lawsuit against Bill Cosby on CNN last Friday. Bernard alleges he drugged and raped her in Atlantic City in or around August 1990.
When asked about the experience, she expressed her gratefulness for the New Jersey legislation that enables survivors of sexual assault a new opportunity to sue their assailants, commonly known as the Adult Survivors Act.
“It’s surreal. It’s empowering. I’m grateful to my attorneys, to the activists, legislators, and governor of New Jersey for allowing me this opportunity to hold Bill Cosby accountable for the life-altering sexual crimes he inflicted upon me.
“I’m grateful that I’m going to be able to present my evidence, testimony and witnesses in a court of law and I’m hoping that my case will inspire other states to also pass the adult survivors act so that other survivors across the nation can see their day in court.
And clearly since only 2% of rapists ever see a day behind bars, that evidence [says that] our criminal justice system is stacked against survivors.”
Bernard’s hopes that other survivors like herself will be able to seek justice in the same way may ring true. Other states, such as New York, are in the process of enacting similar legislation.
Still though, there is opposition, including from Bill Cosby himself.
Andrew Wyatt, a spokesman for Bill Cosby, has criticized the look-back provisions created in legislation similar to the Adult Survivors Act.
“These look back provisions are unconstitutional and they are a sheer violation of an individual’s Constitutional Rights and denies the individual of their Due Process. This is just another attempt to abuse the legal process, by opening up the flood gates for people, who never presented an ounce of evidence, proof, truth, and/or facts, in order to substantiate their alleged allegations. Mr. Cosby continues to maintain steadfast in his innocence.”
Bernard describes an experience very contrary to Cosby’s claims.
When she was asked what the last 31 years since the alleged incident occurred have been like, she choked back tears.
“They’ve been… every day I live with the fear and the pain of the crimes that Bill Cosby inflicted upon me. I suffer panic attacks and night terrors of the Cosby trauma regularly. I am a mother of six children so of course I have to stand strong and be there for them.
I’m also an actor and an artist so I find comfort in my art. It’s been difficult. I suffer from PTSD like any other war veteran suffers PTSD, except the war that Cosby waged upon me was not overseas, it was actually on the landscape of my body.”