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California

Why LAPD’s lone Cosby case matters so much

Of the many misconduct allegations made by women against Bill Cosby in Los Angeles over the decades, L.A. police are actively investigating just one.

It involves claims by a woman who says Cosby assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008, when she was 18.

She alleges Cosby gave her a drink that caused her to black out. When she awoke, she said, she found herself naked on a bed in the mansion with Cosby biting her toes with his pants around his ankles, according to her attorney. Cosby’s attorneys have denied the accusations.

In January, Chloe Goins, 24, was interviewed for 2 1/2 half hours by an LAPD detective. Officials say they are continuing to investigate, and prosecutors say detectives have not presented them with a case.

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Earlier this year, the L.A. district attorney rejected another Cosby case presented by the LAPD because it happened decades ago.

Goins’ case is more recent but also faces challenges.

Under California law, the legal deadline for prosecuting most rape cases involving an adult victim is 10 years.

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In most other adult sex-crime cases — including the type Goins is alleging — the statute of limitations is generally six years, said Laurie Levenson, a Loyola law professor and former prosecutor. That would place her case outside the time allowed for prosecution.

But legal experts said there are other reasons for the LAPD to investigate, especially if Cosby is eventually charged with a crime.

California law allows victims to testify as witnesses even if their own cases never resulted in charges. The evidence is admissible due to a change in California evidence law in 1996 that allowed witnesses to prove a pattern of behavior or propensity to commit a crime, said Dmitry Gorin, a former L.A. sex-crimes prosecutor.

“Most judges would not exclude prior sexual-assault evidence, so jurors generally get to hear that evidence,” he said.

These supporting witnesses were used in the trial of a Pasadena track coach accused of molesting students and in the case of celebrity fashion designer Anand Jon Alexander. In the Alexander case, six women whose cases did not result in criminal charges testified against him. The designer was convicted of sexually assaulting seven women.

So far more than 40 women nationally have alleged that they were sexually assaulted or molested by Cosby over his decades as an entertainer. Most have gone public in the last year. In many cases, they contend Cosby drugged them before raping them.

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“The Cosby case just keeps percolating,” with more and more women coming forward, Levenson said. “If you are the LAPD, you are better off investigating all the allegations, however old, and not waiting till some newer one comes in the door.”

Late last year, another Cosby accuser gave a statement to Los Angeles detectives.

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 said at that time that his department would investigate even 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.

In Goins’ case, Cosby lawyer Martin Singer said his client did nothing wrong and was not present at the Playboy Mansion event.

Spencer Kuvin, Goins’ attorney, alleges she met Cosby during a private party at the mansion.

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She and a friend were handed drinks by the comedian, Kuvin said. Shortly thereafter, she felt dizzy and nauseated. It was suggested she rest in a bedroom, and Cosby offered to show her the way, he said.

“She awoke naked. She was wet all over like someone had been licking her, and Cosby was biting her toes,” Kuvin said.

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