Why L.A. women who accused Bill Cosby of assault have not seen their day in court
Saturday’s declaration of a mistrial in the Bill Cosby sexual assault case in Pennsylvania raises new questions about whether there are other jurisdictions that could bring charges against the comedian, who as been publicly accused of misconduct by numerous women.
Cosby was charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault in an incident involving former Temple University basketball staffer Andrea Constand at his home in suburban Philadelphia in 2004.
But many of the accusations against him — which date back decades — allegedly occurred in the Los Angeles area.
Statute of limitations looms large
Dozens of women have come forward to say Cosby assaulted them during the long decades of his stardom, starting in the 1960s. In many cases, the statute of limitations prevents prosecutors from filing charges. In at least one case reviewed, prosecutors cited a lack of evidence.
Cosby has denied wrongdoing and has filed suit against seven of his accusers, claiming they have defamed him.
Statutes of limitations vary widely from state to state when it comes to sexual crimes, from as short as a year for misdemeanors in some states to no deadline for rape in others. The charges filed in Montgomery County, Pa., came barely a month before the end of the 12-year window that prosecutors there had to charge Cosby in the alleged 2004 assault.
Another legal avenue
When the Los Angeles Police Department examined cases involving Cosby, legal experts said the evidence could become relevant even if no charges were filed in those cases.
California law allows victims to testify as witnesses even if their own cases never resulted in charges. The evidence is admissible due to a 1996 change in California evidence law that allowed witnesses to prove a pattern of behavior or propensity to commit a crime, experts said.
So far, however, no cases of that type have been brought in California.
Here is a closer look at the cases that were reviewed in L.A.:
Since Cosby faced a slew of accusations a few years ago, officials in Los Angeles looked at two cases in particular.
One of the cases involved Chloe Goins. She told Los Angeles police and prosecutors that the comedian gave her a drink that caused her to black out during a party at the Playboy Mansion in 2008.
When she awoke, she said, she found herself naked on a bed with her breast moist and with Cosby biting her toes with his pants around his ankles.
Cosby’s attorneys have denied the accusations and said he was in New York at the time of the party.
Goins reported the allegation last year and was interviewed for 2½ hours by an LAPD detective and again in November 2015 by a prosecutor. She initially alleged the attack occurred at the “Midsummer Night’s Dream Party,” held in August 2008. During the investigation, however, she told police she was not certain what party she attended.
Videos of the Midsummer Night’s Dream Party from the perimeter of Holmby Hills mansion showed no images of Goins or a woman she said accompanied her, according to a 2016 report declining the prosecution.
Cosby was in New York the weekend of the party, prosecutors said. Detectives did not find Cosby’s name on any guest lists for 56 documented events at the Playboy Mansion in the summer of 2008. But they did find his name on the guest list for a February party, the report noted.
The woman who Goins said accompanied her to the mansion told police she did not know Goins and never visited the Playboy estate, Deputy Dist. Atty. Jodi M. Link wrote the report.
Link noted that two crimes described by Goins, misdemeanor battery and misdemeanor indecent exposure, are beyond the statute of limitations.
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office also reviewed potential felonies still within the statute of limitations. Prosecutors determined that there was no evidence to support charges of sexual battery by restraint or sexual assault by intoxication.
Judy Huth alleged that Cosby sexually assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion in 1974, when she was 16. Huth said Cosby put his hand down her pants and kissed her — allegations that his attorney denied.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck agreed to have his department investigate even those allegations beyond the statute of limitations because they might yield information about newer cases.
The district attorney’s office declined to prosecute, citing the statute of limitations.
Beyond the Goins and Huth matters, a third case involved a woman who said Cosby raped her in 1965 when she was 17. The woman said Cosby took her to a Hollywood jazz club, bought her drinks and took her to a home where he raped her, according to district attorney’s office documents.
Prosecutors said the case was beyond the statute of limitations and did not comment further on the case.
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