The first day of comedian Bill Cosby’s retrial on charges of sexual assault began with big news before Cosby even entered the courtroom.
A topless woman, who had words such as “Women’s Lives Matter” written across her body, jumped a barricade and ran toward Cosby as he was making his way to the courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
The woman, identified as 39-year-old Nicolle Rochelle of Little Falls, New Jersey, was among about a half dozen people chanting in support of Cosby’s accuser.
Rochelle appeared in four episodes of “The Cosby Show” from 1990-1992.
Police tackled Rochelle to the ground almost immediately after she ran past Cosby.
COSBY CONFRONTED: A topless protester wearing body paint reading "Women's Lives Matter" charged at 80-year-old comedian Bill Cosby as he arrived at a Pennsylvania court for opening arguments in his retrial on sexual assault charges. https://t.co/I1yzWGdsqr pic.twitter.com/FrdzbK3e6y
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) April 9, 2018
Rochelle had “Cosby Rapis” (sic), “Women’s Lives Matter” and the names of several of Cosby’s accusers written across her body.
Cosby seemed startled by the commotion, but never came into contact with Rochelle or any of the other protesters.
Fox News correspondent Lauren Blanchard reported via Twitter that Rochelle was being charged with disorderly conduct.
The Montgomery County DA is charging the topless protester who rushed Bill Cosby this morning with disorderly conduct. Her name is Nicolle Rochelle, 39, of Little Falls, NJ. She could face a fine and court costs if convicted. #BillCosbyTrial
— Lauren Blanchard (@LaurenBlanch12) April 9, 2018
A European feminist group, Femen, says Rochelle was one of its activists. The group is trying to draw attention to sexual violence and the need to hold perpetrators responsible.
The Femen movement began in Ukraine in 2009 and has spread to multiple countries, according to the Associated Press. It has staged unauthorized topless protests against religious institutions, far-right politicians and other targets seen as oppressing women.
Andrew Wyatt, a spokesman for Cosby, praised law enforcement officials for stopping Rochelle. He also called for increased security around the courthouse during the retrial.
“You never know who’s going to want to make a name for themselves,” Wyatt told the AP.
Wyatt also said he believed a topless woman protesting in support of rape victims was actually being disrespectful to the victims.
Cosby’s first trial ended last year with a hung jury. The popular actor and comedian was charged with drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee, at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. Cosby claimed the incident was consensual.
If convicted, Cosby could face up to 10 years in prison.
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