Lawsuit Targets William Morris for Breaching Duty to Actress
(Los Angeles, CA) – In a lawsuit filed yesterday on behalf of brave survivor Linda Ridgway-Whitedeer, the former actress says that disgraced actor and comedian Bill Cosby used the guise of an audition arranged through the William Morris Agency to sexually assault her.
“Bill Cosby is more than a serial rapist – he’s a professional rapist. He uses his celebrity as a smoke screen.” – Jeff Anderson, attorney
According to the lawsuit, in 1971 Bill Cosby was preparing for his film Hickey and Boggs. He reached out directly to his agency, William Morris, and requested that another William Morris client, Ridgway-Whitedeer, come to the filming location and audition for a role in the film. When Ridgway-Whitedeer arrived at the audition, she expected to see other individuals involved in the casting process. Instead, she says, Cosby ushered her into an office. From there, he ordered her to sit in a chair abutting the door, ensuring that no one could enter the room. He grabbed her hair, forced his penis into her mouth, and ejaculated on her face, hair, and clothes.
“There are two levels of betrayal at play here that put Linda in Cosby’s clutches,” said Anderson, Ridgway-Whitedeer’s attorney. “The first is Cosby’s power to summon any young, vulnerable actress with promises of a career and opportunities. But he didn’t give these women jobs or opportunities in the entertainment industry. He sexually assaulted them. The second layer of betrayal is the William Morris Agency. They knew or should have known that actresses were going to auditions with Cosby and coming back traumatized, assaulted, and raped. And what did William Morris do? Nothing.”
In 2016, Ridgway-Whitedeer was invited to testify at a press conference at the California State Capitol, urging Governor Jerry Brown to support SB 813, a bill that eliminated the statute of limitations for rape and sexual assault in the state. While this law passing was a significant step towards justice for many survivors, it was not retroactive, meaning it was not applicable to previous cases of sexual assault. In 2022, Governor Newson officially signed the AB 2777 (Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act) into law. This law allows survivors of sexual assault as adults to use to take legal action, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. It was through this new law that Linda Ridgway-Whitedeer was finally able to take legal action and file a lawsuit for the assault she suffered many years ago.
Ridgway-Whitedeer is now 77 years old, she has been waiting more than 50 years to expose what happened to her and help the dozens of other women who were raped by Cosby and other powerful figures in the entertainment industry.
“It’s time for this industry and those who run this industry to be called out and held accountable for the horrific crimes that happened to Linda and far too many other women. It’s time for reckoning.” – Jeff Anderson