By Daina Beth Solomon
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Three more women came forward on Wednesday to accuse veteran comedian Bill Cosby of sexually assaulting them decades ago, charges that come a week before Cosby is scheduled to give a sworn deposition in a separate sexual assault lawsuit.
Sharon Van Ert, Pamela Abeyta and Lisa Christie appeared at a Los Angeles news conference and alleged that Cosby assaulted them. They were teary-eyed as they gave their accounts.
The news conference with celebrity attorney Gloria Allred came a week ahead of a deposition that Cosby, 78, has been ordered to give in a lawsuit brought by another Allred client, a woman accusing the comedian of sexually abusing her at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles when she was 15 years old.
Allred said she is opposing Cosby's motion for a protective order to restrict public release of the deposition he is set to give Oct 9. "There should be transparency," she said. A court is expected to decide the matter ahead of his deposition.
Allred said that while the statute of limitations prevents the three women at Wednesday's news conference from taking legal action, they wanted to add their voices to the more than 50 women who already have come forward with similar allegations.
Van Ert said she met Cosby when she was a waitress at a Southern California beachside jazz club in 1976. She said Cosby offered to walk her to her car one night and got in with her. She said she blacked out, woke up later alone and suspected Cosby of drugging and assaulting her.
Abeyta said that in 1975, when she was 25 and aspiring to appear in Playboy magazine, she arranged to meet Cosby and was taken to a Las Vegas hotel and given her own bedroom in his penthouse suite. She said she believes her drink was drugged when she attended a show with Cosby and his friends. She awoke later in the comedian's bed.
Christie said she met Cosby when she was a model and aspiring actress aged 18, and he cast her as an extra on "The Cosby Show." She said she viewed him as a father figure and maintained a platonic relationship with him for two years, but then he attempted to coerce her into sleeping with him.
Cosby's lawyers have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing by the 78 year-old entertainer. A representative on Wednesday said Cosby had no comment on the latest allegations.
(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon, writing by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by David Gregorio)