Gloria Allred Tells TheDC There’s No Case Against Cosby… $100 Million Fortune At Stake

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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“We have received notice that there might be attempts tonight to interrupt this performance. If an interruption occurs, remain calm. Do NOT confront the person making the interruption.” – public address announcer before Bill Cosby’s performance in Denver

A middle-aged woman sitting front and center in some kind of activist T-shirt rocks the mic. “Rape IS criminal, and I think you are very crass, sir” she shouts, pointing at me. I asked Gloria Allred if she really had any kind of case against Cosby, and she answered accurately. The crowd’s scolding energy shifts over to me. I tell them that since Ms. Allred answered my question to my satisfaction, I would leave. One of the college-aged girls in the corner snaps “Yeah. Go!” The crowd applauds my exit.

Comedian Bill Cosby has come to Denver to perform a pair of weekend standup shows. Accusations that Cosby drugged and sexually abused numerous women hang over him as he arrives in town. Allred, who calls herself a “feminist lawyer” in her remarks, has followed him to the Rocky Mountains to protest his appearance with a rape accuser in tow.

Tensions are high.

Less than an hour in, Allred’s press conference has turned into pandemonium.

Gloria Allred sets up her presser in the McWhitney Room at the Crawford Hotel in Union Station. I head downstairs in an elevator with a well-dressed man and woman. “Are you also a Bill Cosby fan?” he asks me sternly. I told them I thought the sitcom was lame. They both nod.

The small room is packed, rape activists scattered, with photographers holding lights and cameras around the perimeter of the room. Some college-aged girls have wandered in to sit in the back right, taking footage on their phones.

Allred and her victim, Beth Ferrier, enter through the side door and pass by me and some other reporter types arm-in-arm.

Allred thanks the fired-up crowd. “You are the kind of people we need in this country.” She shows videos of the other accusers. Beth Ferrier tells her story.

Ferrier first accused Cosby in 2006. She admits that she engaged in a consensual relationship with Cosby. She admits that she visited Cosby on his sitcom set with friends even after the alleged assault occurred. She claims that Cosby drugged her cappuccino in a Denver dressing room in the mid-1980s and she woke up in her car in the parking lot with her clothes “all a mess.”

They introduce Ferrier’s “family.” A racially ambiguous teenage girl enters with a maybe 20-year-old guy with a light beard and a backwards Yankees cap. The girl has a name tag that says either “Kinsington” or “Kensington.” Their relationship is not detailed.

The kids take reserved seats in the left-hand corner. The girl smiles or laughs consistently throughout the show, brushes her hair with her hand and keeps looking back at the guy behind her. The guy looks at me throughout. Kensington’s biggest laugh comes when Ferrier says “I didn’t want to be an actress.”

“Please believe us,” Ferrier begs. “Please follow this.”

Allred cuts me off for a question after Ferrier finishes.

The first woman who asks a question appears to be one of the activists, who sets Allred up to give a speech about how Cosby must be brought into “a court of law.” The second one appears to be one of the organizers of the event.

Allred knows that I’m going to ask a question, but she thinks I’m going to ask about the accusers’ personal histories. TheDC obtained information shortly before the presser detailing Ferrier’s criminal record, recent 2013 arrest for disturbing the peace, a mental competency hearing and possible use of the aliases “Beth Pierce” and “Beth Tillo.”

“None of my clients are nuns” Allred says. She talks about Cosby’s legal team, headed by Marty Singer, who she said she’s known for a long time. She brings up the Alan Dershowitz sexual assault allegations, noting that he denies it but she’s not defending him. She says she thinks Camille Cosby is also an abused woman and the activists murmur in agreement. She says, “And Phylicia Rashad. Well-” to derisive laughter.

I ask Allred about the one concrete piece of evidence that she offered to bolster Ferrier’s case: a lie detector test Ferrier took that Allred assured the crowd “met the standards of the National Enquirer” before Cosby’s team allegedly pressured the Enquirer to squash the deal for the story.

Does a lie detector test hold up in criminal court? You’re really talking about a civil case aren’t you, Ms. Allred? And that civil case, as you mentioned, is a $100 million case.

Allred answers my question with regard to the criminal charges: Is a lie detector test admissible in criminal court? She repeats.

“No,” she says.

Do we meet the “beyond a reasonable doubt” burden?

“No,” she says.

Do we meet the burden for a civil action? Do we meet that time burden?

“We don’t know” she admits, considering the statute of limitations that apply to so many of the cases. Allred wants Cosby to waive all statutes of limitations. Considering the legal defense Cosby has acquired, this goal is just a fantasy.

“That’s all I wanted to know,” I say.

There’s a disturbance in the room, and it must be settled. The activists take the microphone to condemn me. I slip out and walk back upstairs through basement hallways. Bill Cosby goes on in two hours.

The crowd pours in defiantly past two dozen picketers for the Saturday dinner-hour show, news vans setting up out front. The guests file up the steps and into a courtyard for safe haven. They make their way to the historic Buell Theater, flanked by venue entertainment guys in jackets and a top-hatted doorman who showed up tonight: “The Bill Cosby Show. Right Here.”

Three cops scan people down at the front door. “Ask him to spread his legs further” one guard tells the guy with the scanner when I come in. I give her a quick look. “I meant him” she says of her partner with a quiet laugh.

The PA announcer warns repeatedly that something might go down.

Cosby, bowing to a quick standing ovation, doesn’t shy away from audience participation. When he says it takes a few years for the wife in a marriage to own you, a young woman shouts out, “How many years exactly?” He asks her how long she’s been married. “One year,” she replies. He hangs his head.

He talks dismissively about “the PETA people.” He takes a moment at the start to talk about “the point” of continuing to live. For Cosby, it’s about figuring things out about life. For Cosby, it’s about the fine details of a marriage, the subtle nuances of a family, the quiet humilities of aging.

After each bit early in the show, he raises his fist in the air for applause, sometimes standing, sometimes his head bowed. When he calls up a thirty-something black man and his nine-year-old son, both named Quincy, he lets the boy be the star of the show. After one laugh break, the older Quincy raises his fist.

He asks the crowd what time is it. “There’s another show,” he says, referring to the after-dinner 8 o’clock slot. “Some people are coming in from the suburbs.”

“Uh-oh” somebody yells out to scattered laughs.

“Uh-oh?” he replies.

The specter of the accusations hangs over the performance, making every punchline a political referendum. The orchestra section, dressed to the nines, came there to show support. A biracial couple behind me, a young biracial couple with older female relatives in front of me, laugh like an election depends on it. But this election isn’t black or white, or Republican or Democrat.

There’s a different kind of division in the air. And none of the audience members, activists confronting them with “Rape Is Not Funny” signs outside, get on their cell phones after the show knowing just what the Hell is going on.

“They said it like eleven times before the show,” a guy behind me on the sidewalk says on his phone, referring to the warnings about activist interrupters.

The Irish bartender in downtown Denver doesn’t mention anything about it when I told him what I was in town for. “I think he [Cosby] was here recently too,” he says, careful, before pointing me toward the new marijuana store. The airport cab driver thinks if he’s a criminal he should go before a judge. “If he is not criminal, then what’s the fuss?”

Down the street a few blocks from the theater, young hipsters pour into the Comedy Works nightclub. The poster closest to the door is for Hannibal Buress, the 31-year-old black comic from New York who made Cosby allegations go viral on the Internet in a standup routine in which he said “Bill Cosby has the fucking smuggest old black man public persona,” and criticized Cosby for taking morally conservative stands in his advocacy in the black community.

Will Hannibal Buress appeal to the middle-aged white guy beside me at the bar the next morning, cheering on the Packers because the Seahawks “cheated all season?” Will he appeal to the twenty-something female hair stylists on my other side, the ones I give my marijuana-store vials to before heading back to the airport? Will he appeal to the hipster night club patrons who tell me to “Get the Hell outta here” with my outsider accent?

Buress comes to Denver in February.

Bill Cosby already came to town and left.

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