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Bill Cosby Deposition Offers New Clues About Possible Sexual Abuse


We now know more details of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual abuse. The New York Times has published excerpts from a deposition Cosby gave in a lawsuit some 10 years ago. In it, the comedian admitted to a pattern of extramarital affairs. Over decades, dozens of women have accused Cosby of sexual abuse, yet he's never been prosecuted. NPR's Mandalit del Barco looks at some reasons why that might be.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: During four days of questioning, Bill Cosby admitted to using his fame and drugs, specifically Quaaludes, in order to have sex with women. The deposition shows he tried to keep his wife, Camille, from finding out, sometimes by paying the women through his rep at the William Morris Agency. Prosecutors asked about promising mentorships and career advice to his alleged victims and about one who alleged he tried to seduce her by asking about her father's cancer. Cosby said yes to all.

MAI FERNANDEZ: In the deposition, he showed that he really didn't care. All he wanted to do was take advantage of these women sexually. This is not a compassionate man.

DEL BARCO: Mai Fernandez is executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crimes. The accusations against Cosby go back decades, and that's why, she says, it makes it difficult to prosecute him. From state to state, the statute of limitations for rape crimes varies. South Carolina has no time restrictions, but in places like Pennsylvania, Nevada and California where alleged incidents took place, time is up after three to 12 years. And in some places, limitations depend on the age of the victim.

FERNANDEZ: It's very hard to get around the statute of limitations. You know, I think that the reasoning behind it is, you know, you think that some of the evidence could've gone dry, that after so much time has gone by, people's memories aren't as clear. All that said, you can usually, many years after an incident has occurred, compile a very strong case. And it's really the statute of limitations that is causing the problem.

DEL BARCO: Scott Berkowitz is president of RAINN, the largest anti-sexual assault organization in the country. He says after the recent Catholic Church scandal, some states revised their statute of limitations, making it easier for victims of priests to sue the Church. And Berkowitz says some states are using DNA evidence to prosecute beyond statute of limitation's rules.

SCOTT BERKOWITZ: Many states have added drugging or somehow incapacitating the victim directly into their sexual violence laws. Other states have separate, standalone crimes for drugging or incapacitating someone.

DEL BARCO: Cosby says he did use drugs for sex, and Mai Fernandez says Cosby's victims may have also been intimidated by his fame. That's what may have taken so long to come forward. She says he was a classic serial rapist.

FERNANDEZ: He knew these women. He grooms these women, so it's not like he's just meeting them in a dark alley and raping them. He's bringing them into their confidence, asking about their problems, supposedly caring about them. And he only assaults them once they are in sort of his trust.

DEL BARCO: In at least one case, Cosby is being investigated by the Los Angeles police. His lawyers have not responded to repeated requests for answers. Mandalit del Barco, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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