Chloe Goins woke up in a bedroom at the Playboy Mansion in 2008, she says, when she felt “a sharp pain in one of her toes.” As she regained consciousness, she realized where the feeling was coming from: Bill Cosby had one of her toes in his mouth.
Goins previously sued Cosby in federal court, a case she dropped in February. On Monday, she sued in Los Angeles County Superior Court. In her new complaint, Goins is suing both Cosby and Hugh Hefner, Playboy founder, for sexual battery, gender violence, and other charges.
Spencer Kuvin, Goins’ attorney, told ThinkProgress by phone that “during our ongoing investigation of the facts in Chloe’s case,” before dropping the original lawsuit in February, “it came to our attention that Mr. Hefner either knew or clearly should have known not only what happened to Chloe but what was happening to other women there at the Playboy Mansion regarding Mr. Cosby and drugging women.”
As the lawsuit Goins refiled Monday claims, she was a friend’s plus-one to a party at the Mansion. Once she arrived, she was introduced to Hugh Hefner, who introduced her to Bill Cosby. Goins claims Cosby asked her and her friend if they wanted a drink; they said yes, and Cosby obliged. A few sips in, Goins started to feel sick; upon seeing she was “woozy,” Hefner told Goins she could go lie down in a bedroom at the residence. Cosby escorted her there.
As her lawsuit alleges, she was “informed and believe[d] that Cosby put some type of drug or narcotic in the drink.” She blacked out and when she came to, in addition to finding Cosby’s mouth on her toes, she was naked, felt a “wet and sticky” substance on her breasts “as thought a person had been licking them.” When Cosby stood up, Goins claims, he pulled up his pants, “which were previously removed,” and left the room.
On Tuesday, Goins turned 26. California law states that, if a minor has been sexually abused, the victim can file a case within eight years of turning 18. Goins, however, is a complicated case: She does not remember when in 2008 the alleged party took place; she was either 17 or 18 years old at the time.
‘Defendant HEFNER knew or should have known that Defendant COSBY over the years had a propensity for intoxicating and or drugging young women and taking advantage of them sexually and against their will or whilethey were unconscious…’
Kuvin says they dropped the federal action to allow time to complete the Hefner investigation and refile the case in state court “because we felt that the discovery would be more advantageous there, we would have more time to be able to prosecute the action in a manner we saw fit, and we felt we would get a better local jury regarding some of the issues in our case.”
What if, at the end of the research process, Kuvin discovers that Goins was 18 when the party occurred? Kuvin cited a California law that allows an individual to “bring a sexual assault complaint within three years of them discovering how it has affected them psychologically. So even if she was not a minor, we believe that the case could still proceed.” And, of course, the drinking age is 21, so Hefner could still be found liable for providing Goins with alcohol.
Judge Denies Bill Cosby’s Request To Have Sexual Assault Case Thrown OutOver 50 women have accused Bill Cosby of sexual misconduct. But there is only one criminal case against him, and this…thinkprogress.orgCosby, through his counsel, has said in the media that he did not attend the party in question. But Kuvin said “there is zero evidence, thus far, that [Goins] was there on a specific date. So therefore, any commentary about his travel plans in 2008 and where he was have absolutely no bearing on the facts of our case and the truth of what she knows occurred.”
“But it’s excellent for us to know that apparently Mr. Cosby has maintained all of his travel documents,” Kuvin added. “Because I’ll be asking for them in civil court.”
Kuvin represented, among other “sexual abuse victims against wealthy individuals,” three of the victims of Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire sex offender who served 13 months of an 18 month sentence after pleading guilty to soliciting prostitution from underage girls. “Someone talked to Chloe about what happened to her” and connected Goins to Kuvin, who is based in Florida.
‘Defendant HEFNER’s… act of inviting or housing and introducing Defendant COSBY, [who] the Defendant HEFNER knew or should have known had a history of severe and serial sexual battery and or possibly rape of women, was negligent at the very least…’
Hefner resides at the Mansion, where Playboy has hosted lavish parties since the 1970s. Several of the 50-plus allegations against Cosby involve Playboy in some way. Judy Huth says Cosby sexually assaulted her at the Mansion in 1974 when she was 15 years old. Other Cosby accusers included former Playboy models or employees at the Playboy club. One, PJ Masten, told New York Magazine that she met Cosby when she worked as a bunny manager at the Playboy club in Chicago. He drugged and raped her, she claims, and when she told her supervisor at the Playboy club the next day, she was told, “You do know that that’s Hefner’s best friend, right? Nobody’s going to believe you. I suggest you shut your mouth.”
In a statement released to the Hollywood Reporter in December 2014, Hefner said, “Bill Cosby has been a good friend for many years and the mere thought of these allegations is truly saddening. I would never tolerate this kind of behavior, regardless of who was involved.” Cosby has denied all the allegations against him.
The inclusion of Hefner in the suit seems to largely hinge on a what-did-he-know-and-when-did-he-know-it issue: How does one prove that Hefner was aware of, let alone complicit in, Cosby’s alleged pattern of behavior as a serial sexual predator?
“If you have an eyewitness to a conversation, that’s one way” to prove Hefner’s knowledge, Kuvin said. He also pointed to Down the Rabbit Hole, a tell-all book by Holly Madison, one of Hefner’s ex-wives and former Playboy bunnies. “There’s a whole bunch of stuff in there about drugs at the Mansion, who is using them, who is acquiring them. There are also a number of prior, former Playboy bunnies that are no longer at the Mansion, and you better believe that a lot of them are more than happy to talk about their time there.”
When It Comes To Playboy, It’s Not About The Bunnies. It’s About The #Brand.Playboy will no longer publish pictures of naked women. I know what you’re thinking: Wherever will you find photos of…thinkprogress.orgGoins’ complaint cites Cosby’s celebrity status a number of times as a factor in his ability to take advantage of Goins. (Celebrity and its trappings was also an alleged factor in Goins’ fear to report: Her friend dissuaded Goins from telling anyone else about the assault, fearing that the two would “never be invited to large celebrity filled parties such as Hefner’s again.”)
Why is Cosby’s fame so important? “I think it becomes relevant in the factual background of why these women — the 50-plus that have come forward now — remained quiet for so long,” Kuvin said. “And specifically in Chloe’s circumstance, it was very specific as to why she didn’t report it immediately… The initial response [from her friend] was, ‘Keep your mouth shut, no one will belief you.’ So status, whether it be financial or celebrity status, becomes very important as to why women are afraid that they won’t be believed.”
‘Defendant HEFNER was familiar with Defendant COSBY’s habit and act of intoxicating young women and spending thenight with them while at his residence…’
There is currently only one criminal case ongoing against Cosby. In the multitude of civil cases against him, Goins’ is somewhat unique: Cosby’s other accusers are suing him for defamation, for branding them as liars because of the nature of their allegations. Given the statutes of limitations involved in those cases, defamation is the closest thing those women have to suing Cosby directly for sexual assault. (In many cases, Cosby has countersued.) Goins is suing Cosby directly for sexual assault. This means the outcome of the other cases against Cosby will likely have zero effect on Goins’ case.
Hefner is named as a “conspirator,” which “doesn’t necessarily have to specifically involve the exact crime,” Kuvin said. “We believe a conspiracy would be supported if Mr. Hefner knew this was the past practice and pattern for Mr. Cosby and either allowed it to occur — utilizing his home and inviting women there — or knew that it was going to occur and just stood by and allowed it to occur. A conspiracy can be two people got together and discussed it, or can be because two people agreed to remain quiet about what they both to be true.”
Cosby is 78 years old; Hefner is 90. Kuvin acknowledged that due to their elderly state, “there may be some that look at them sympathetically” because of their “old and infirmed condition.” But, Kuvin said, “they shouldn’t get a free pass because no one uncovered it until now.”