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A woman who appeared with Bill Cosby on an educational children’s TV show as a teenager has sued, saying he defamed her after she gave an interview claiming he sexually abused her in the 1980s.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday by 48-year-old Renita Hill of Baldwin, a Pittsburgh suburb, said the incidents occurred while Cosby helped pay for her college tuition and housing until she broke off contact with him in 1987.
Hill is one of more than two dozen women to accuse Cosby of similar abuse dating back to the 1960s, though only a few have sued him. Hill is the fourth to sue for defamation. Another woman, a former employee at Cosby’s alma mater, Temple University, sued, claiming he abused her while acting as a mentor. She settled her lawsuit out of court in 2006.
According to the newest lawsuit, Hill was 16 when she met Cosby during a 1983 talent search for Picture Pages, which he hosted.
Hill was hired, and shortly afterward Cosby began flying her to cities where he was performing and paying for her hotel room. The lawsuit doesn’t specify how often that happened, but Hill’s attorney, George Kontos, said Thursday it occurred one time each in Denver and New York and “several” times in Atlantic City, N.J.
“Once Cosby finished his show, or business, Renita would be summoned to his room. Once there, Cosby would hand Renita a glass with some form of liquid in it and instruct her to ‘drink that,’ ” said the lawsuit.
Most of the time, after drinking, “Renita would lose consciousness and wake up in her room the next day, oftentimes nude, disheveled, confused and disoriented,” continued the lawsuit.
At first, Hill assumed she blacked out from drinking too much, but she eventually realized “she was being assaulted and taken advantage of during these occasions” and that “the drinks provided to her by Cosby contained drug(s) that affected her consciousness, memory and perception,” said the lawsuit.
After a few such incidents, Hill objected to taking the drinks, only to be told by Cosby, “If you don’t drink the drink, you can’t come” on the trips, said the lawsuit.
She relented and, on one occasion when she didn’t fully lose consciousness, remembers Cosby kissing and groping her. She also remembers angering Cosby by complaining about his “cigar breath,” said the lawsuit.
Hill, a high school junior when she met the entertainer, gave up plans to be an actress, in part because of the alleged abuse, said Kenneth Haber, another of her attorneys.
Hill broke off contact with Cosby while she was a sophomore in college and refused to let him continue paying for her college and housing, said the lawsuit.
Kontos said Hill never had contact with Cosby after 1987, and never during their relationship did Cosby try to pursue consensual sex with her.
“He had this contract with her only when she was drugged,” said Kontos.
The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they are victims of sexual abuse, but Hill wanted to be identified at Thursday’s news conference, where she was accompanied by her husband and two 25-year-old daughters. Hill and her family would not comment beyond a brief statement she read.
“The filing of this lawsuit is one more step toward seeking justice for what happened to me and in holding Bill Cosby accountable for the false allegations that he’s made against me,” said Hill. “I am hopeful, with the help of my legal team, justice will be served.”
Cosby’s lawyers and publicist didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.
Hill finally came forward in November because she was “emboldened” after other women began renewing similar allegations against Cosby, said Kontos.
Cosby, 78, never has been charged with a crime and repeatedly has denied all similar accusations.
Hill said she was defamed by various comments and statements that Cosby made about his accusers or that were issued on Cosby’s behalf.
None of the statements named Hill specifically, but all were made or issued after she publicly accused him on KDKA-TV, said the lawsuit.
A day after Hill’s interview, Cosby attorney Martin Singer issued a statement saying: “The new, never-before-heard claims from women who have come forward in the past two weeks with unsubstantiated, fantastical stories about things they say occurred 30, 40 or even 50 years ago have escalated far past the point of absurdity.”
Cosby and his wife, Camille, called the allegations “innuendo” that was not properly vetted by the media.
Kontos said those statements were made to “stifle and intimidate” Hill and make her and other accusers out to be liars.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for defamation and emotional distress.
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