Well, that got nasty quickly. On the first day of disgraced funnyman Bill Cosby’s retrial on indecent sexual assault charges Monday, a topless female protester with names of his accusers scrawled on her body charged the 80-year-old as he walked into Montgomery County Courthouse.
Shouting “Women’s Lives Matter,” which was also written on her body along with “Cosby Rapist,” the woman hopped the fence and ran topless toward Cosby at 8:35 a.m. as he was being escorted into the courthouse.
The woman was later identified as Nicolle Rochelle, 38, an actress from Little Falls, New Jersey, who according to her IMDB profile, was featured in four episodes of The Cosby Show, between 1990 and 1992.
“The main goal was to make Cosby uncomfortable because that is exactly what he has been doing for decades to women,” Rochelle said after being charged, WHYY reported.
She said her experience acting on The Cosby Show was a positive one, but that she was deeply troubled by the charges against Cosby.
“I really wanted to express the anger that they maybe can’t express.” she said, telling the Daily News, “It was definitely a peaceful type of protest. I just wanted him to feel my presence and to feel uncomfortable. I didn’t want him to just walk like, ‘La-di-da, it’s a normal day. I have my regular dignity, and I did nothing.'”
Police officers nearby guarding the area were caught by surprise but rushed to tackle the woman into the bushes before she could intercept Cosby.
— News This Second (@NewsThisSecond) April 9, 2018
The feminist group “Femen,” whose name was also written on the still anonymous protesters’ body, took responsibility for the incident and issued a statement of support.
FEMEN calls for an end to widespread apathy and ignorance of a woman’s plight, denying the persuasive reality of misogyny and sexism and conveniently redefining the perpetrator with victim status.
— inna shevchenko (@femeninna) April 9, 2018
❗️#FEMEN activist faced Bill Cosby as he walked into a suburban Philadelphia courthouse Monday for the start of his sexual assault retrial. We demand to convict Cosby the Rapist and stand in solidarity with all victims! #BillCosby #BillCosby #metoo #timesup pic.twitter.com/JrMV1tNfYV
— inna shevchenko (@femeninna) April 9, 2018
The Montgomery County DA’s office charged Rochelle with disorderly conduct a few hours after the incident.
“She entered a restricted area on the grounds of the Montgomery County Courthouse at 8:35 a.m., when the defendant, William H. Cosby Jr., was arriving for court,” the DA’s office noted in a statement announcing the charges. “She was wearing no clothing from the waist up.”
If convicted of disorderly conduct, she will face a fine and be ordered to pay court costs.
FEMEN released a statement bashing Cosby and demanding his conviction.
“FEMEN has a message for you Bill Cosby: silence is not consent and we will not stay silent in the face of your smug denial!” Femen said in a statement. “It is mathematically impossible that all of Cosby’s victims are lying!”
FEMEN noted that five more of Cosby’s accusers, out of a total of some 19 that prosecution hoped would testify, will get on the witness stand during this trial, and bashed the justice system. (Another new witness, also a former Temple employee, will testify on behalf of Cosby that she heard Constand discussing the possibility of claiming sexual abuse to win money in a lawsuit from a wealthy man).
“The defense team has already spent months trying to convince the general public that the entire case is not about rape at all but in fact, about race and some sort of elaborate plan to dethrone Cosby as a powerful black man who was apparently in talks to buy a popular television network,” FEMEN wrote.
“With all of these distractions, Cosby’s defense team is hoping to confuse the most important issue at hand; the systematic disembodiement and disempowerment of women’s bodies occurring around the world since the beginning of time. This practice happens to be one of the main tenets of the patriarchial system and Bill Cosby knows this particular practice well, wielding his power over the heads and bodies of women for decades and presently having the audacity to accuse his accusers of lying.”
Cosby stands charged with the alleged indecent sexual assault of former Temple employee Andrea Constand in his Elkins Park mansion in 2004.
Montco prosecutors investigated and chose not pursue Constand’s claim when first filed with law enforcement. In 2014, new Montco DA Kevin Steele reopened the case and charged Cosby.
At his first trial last year, the jury deadlocked.
Rochelle announced her intentions to protest Cosby on April 9 on her Facebook page.
“In honor of the first day of the Bill Cosby retrial, I went by the address where they filmed The Cosby Show exterior in New York City,” she wrote in a post with a picture of herself in front of a brownstone. “LET’S HOPE JUSTICE WILL FINALLY BE SERVED!”
Check back with MetroPhilly.us for more updates from Cosby’s first day back in court.