Music venue cancels Cosby concerts

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Published: Thursday 4th December 2014 by The News Editor

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A New York venue has axed Bill Cosby’s scheduled performance this weekend as the veteran entertainer was engulfed by more sex abuse claims.

The Tarrytown Music Hall, north of New York City, announced the cancellation in an email to ticketholders.

Some of Cosby’s shows in other states have been postponed after women have come forward claiming the 77-year-old comic sexually assaulted them. Cosby has denied the allegations.

Cosby had two sold-out engagements in Tarrytown on Saturday. Late last week, the promoter said people who did not want to attend could get refunds and nearly half of the audience had reportedly requested one.

Tarrytown said last night that Cosby had agreed to cancel in consultation with the shows’ promoter.

For weeks, women have publicly shared stories of alleged sexual abuse by Cosby with the expectation that any lawsuits they might file would be blocked due to long-expired statutes of limitations.

But on Tuesday a woman who claims Cosby molested her in a bedroom of the Playboy Mansion in about 1974 filed a sexual battery lawsuit, using an exemption that allows victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue decades after the incident.

Judy Huth, who said she was 15 when Cosby abused her, filed the case in Los Angeles because she only recently became aware of psychological damage caused by the alleged incident. Experts say her lawsuit is the latest high-profile example of an alleged abuse victim getting their day in court.

“The reality is, with sexual violence and a lot of traumatic events, you don’t discover either the full extent or even any of the trauma immediately,” said Meg Garvin, a law professor and executive director of the National Crime Victim Law Institute.

She said laws that limited victims, especially those of childhood sex abuse, from filing claims later in life reflected an outdated public policy.

“It was neglecting the reality of victimisation,” she said. “The original public policy is no longer valid because we know better now.”

It can take decades for a victim of child sex abuse to realise the impact it has had on their life, said Raymond Boucher, a civil litigator who was the lead lawyer in molestation lawsuits against the Catholic Church of California. His work led to the settlement of many of the cases for 660 million dollars (£423m) in 2007.

“When you’re talking about rape or sexual abuse, so often the victims suppress the feelings, the emotion, and the incident itself,” Mr Boucher said.

For Ms Huth’s lawsuit to survive, she will have to show that she discovered the alleged abuse by Cosby caused significant psychological damage within the past three years.

“This traumatic incident, at such a tender age, has caused psychological damage and mental anguish for (Ms Huth) that has caused significant problems throughout her life,” her lawsuit states.

Mr Boucher said as the case progresses, a psychological analysis of Ms Huth will play a role in whether her case goes forward.

He said while the concept of suing another person for abuse that happened 40 years ago may seem odd, the principle has been a part of the legal system for decades.

He cited successful cases filed by people who became aware late in life that harmful chemicals or exposure to asbestos caused health problems or early deaths as legally similar to the sex abuse claims.

In recent weeks, more than a dozen women have accused Cosby of drugging and sexually abusing them. Cosby’s lawyers have in the past issued statements characterising some of the claims as previously discredited and others as untrue. Cosby’s lawyer Martin Singer did not respond to repeated messages seeking comment yesterday.

Tweets sent from Cosby’s official Twitter account on Monday and Tuesday thanked a pair of celebrity supporters, Whoopi Goldberg and singer Jill Scott.

Cosby has steadfastly refused to answer questions about the sex abuse allegations. Mr Singer has denied some of them and said several of the women accusing Cosby had been discredited, but none of the claims has been tested in court.

Only one woman has filed suit – Andrea Constand, who sued in 2005 and settled for an undisclosed amount before the case went to trial. Cosby has never been charged in connection with any of the allegations.

Since the most recent claims arose, NBC has scrapped a Cosby comedy that was under development, TV Land stopped airing reruns of The Cosby Show, and Netflix postponed a Cosby stand-up special.

Numerous dates on Cosby’s tour have been cancelled, a North Carolina school removed the entertainer from an advisory board and another stopped awarding an online scholarship in his name.

Cosby also resigned from his Philadelphia alma mater Temple University’s board of trustees on Monday, saying he “wanted to do what would be in the best interests of the university and its students”.

It may take years to sort out Ms Huth’s lawsuit, but for many of the women who have accused Cosby, there is no recourse in civil or criminal courts.

Los Angeles lawyer Gloria Allred conceded that point to a room full of reporters yesterday, accompanied by three women including Beth Ferrier, who was to have given evidence in the Constand case that she too was sexually assaulted by Cosby, had the case gone to trial.

The two other women also claimed Cosby had abused them sexually, but when asked by a reporter, Ms Allred would not say how she had vetted their claims.

Published: Thursday 4th December 2014 by The News Editor

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