Two former actresses and a flight attendant have joined nearly 50 other women who claim that comedian Bill Cosby has sexually assaulted or harassed them over the years.
“Today, that empty chair is filled by three women who allege that they were victimized by Mr. Cosby,” Allred said late Wednesday in a statement to The Washington Post.
Cosby has never admitted to sexual assault or been charged criminally.
Allred introduced the women at a news conference in Los Angeles, where she has encouraged others to go public with their allegations against the 78-year-old comedian. Colleen Hughes, a former flight attendant for American Airlines, and Linda Ridgeway Whitedeer, a former actor who appeared in the 1972 film “The Mechanic,” accused Cosby of sexual assault. Former actor Eden Tirl, who appeared as a guest on “The Cosby Show,” accused him of sexual harassment.
“These new accusers are coming forward now either because they want to support other alleged victims or because they feel they could no longer hold the secret within them anymore,” Allred said, “or because of what they perceive as unfair attacks on many accusers and attempts to blame victims by Monique Pressley, one of Mr. Cosby’s army of attorneys.”
Allred called out Pressley for her recent argument that not only has Cosby denied all allegations but that the accusers have waited too long to make a case. “I believe that people are innocent until they’re proven guilty, and if you can’t prove them guilty in a court through prosecution, then you don’t you get the option of persecution instead,” Pressley told HuffPost Live last month. “I don’t think that 10, 20, 30, 40 years later people get to decide to come forward.”
On Wednesday, Allred said: “There is no statute of limitations on the right of free speech.”
Hughes says she met Cosby on a flight to Los Angeles in the 1970s, when she was working for American Airlines.
“He flirted with me the entire flight and told me not to eat the terrible food on the airplane,” she said in a written statement. “He said he would take me to a nice lunch in Beverly Hills when we got to Los Angeles.”
She said he walked her back to her hotel so she could get ready. When she came out of the bathroom “fully clothed,” she said, he was sipping champagne from her Gucci shoe.
“I said, ‘Ewww, don’t do that, that’s gross. I just walked 3,000 miles in those shoes,'” she said.
Cosby, she said, replied: “A princess should always drink champagne out of a glass slipper.'”
Hughes said she drank some champagne from a glass as the two watched the news on TV. She said he tried to take her hand and she told him to “try and keep it light.”
“That’s the last thing that I remember,” she said. When she woke up, she said, “my clothes were thrown all over the room.”
Ridgeway Whitedeer says Cosby sexually assaulted her when she interviewed for a role.
“I felt Cosby’s left hand gently grab my long hair behind my head,” she said in a graphic written statement. “His giant frame blocked the door so if anyone should try to enter, they would not be able to see what he was doing.”
Cosby, she claims, forced her to perform oral sex on him.
“I couldn’t breathe,” she said. “I was in shock.”
Tirl played a police officer on “The Cosby Show” during the fifth season of the series, in 1989. She claims Cosby locked her in his dressing room during a taping and sexually harassed her.
“He wanted me to know that he thought I had ‘it’ — the big ‘it’ needed in television,” she wrote in a statement. “I could have anything I wanted, was I willing to do what it took?”
“Bill came toward me. When we were face to face, he asked me to turn around,” she added. “I felt him step toward me and put his hands over the backs of my hands. He began to move our hands together like an exercise many actors know as ‘the mirror exercise.’ … When he was finished with this, he then pulled me into him, wrapping both our arms around me, like lovers would, and whispered in my ear, ‘See, that’s all we were going to do — make love. That’s making love.’
“He turned me around, hugged me and I left without saying a word.”
In her statement, Allred addressed Pressely directly, saying: “I challenge you to debate me. I challenge you to find the courage to stand on the same stage with me and debate these issues. Stand up like and woman and do it, and please do not give some ridiculous excuses as to why you cannot accept my challenge.”
Pressley did not accept Allred’s challenge, saying through a spokesman: “While I do appreciate the temptation that may exist, for some, to turn this matter into a public spectacle, lawyers representing clients resolve matters in court, not debates.”
Asked if there was a specific statement about the new allegations, the spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, wrote in an e-mail Thursday: “Attorney Pressley’s statement summed up everything.”
Allred said the three women are not suing Cosby at this time because the statute of limitations on sexual misconduct cases has expired.
Currently, Judith Huth is Allred’s only client involved in a lawsuit against Cosby.
Huth filed a civil lawsuit against Cosby last year, claiming that he molested her in 1974 the Playboy Mansion when she was 15 “by attempting to put his hand down her pants, and then taking her hand in his hand and performing a sex act on himself without her consent.” Cosby has since tried to stop the lawsuit, most recently arguing that he should not have been publicly named in the suit. The California Supreme Court turned down the challenge last month, allowing the case to move to deposition.
Cosby’s deposition will take place Oct. 9; Huth’s is scheduled on Oct. 15.
Allred is currently representing 21 women who have alleged that they were victimized by Cosby.
“Many alleged victims have overcome their fear because they want Mr. Cosby to be held accountable,” Allred said in her statement, “and they now realize that their silence is only helping Mr. Cosby and hurting the persons who are the real victims.”
Sarah Larimer contributed to this report.