Former ‘Cosby Show’ Actress Arrested After Topless Protest at Bill Cosby Retrial
By Meredith B. Kile
Lawrence Lucier/Getty Images Entertainment
Former Cosby Show actress Nicolle Rochelle was arrested outside of the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, on Monday, after staging a topless protest during Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial.
A press release from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office stated that Rochelle, 39, “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. She was wearing no clothing from the waist up.”
Rochelle was photographed topless outside the courthouse, with the words “Women’s Lives Matter” and the first names of Cosby accusers painted on her chest and arms. She later told WHYY and NPR reporter Bobby Allyn that the goal of her protest was to "make Cosby uncomfortable, because that is exactly what he has been doing for decades to women ... I wanted to show him that I was not disempowered."
Rochelle appeared on several episodes of The Cosby Show as a young actress, playing a friend of Keshia Knight Pulliam’s character, Rudy. She told Allyn that she never had a bad experience with Cosby at the time, but was "hoping victims would feel some sort of connection with me. I wanted to express the anger that they maybe can't express."
In an interview over speakerphone from her Norristown hotel, topless protester Nicolle Rochelle said her goal was to "make Cosby uncomfortable, because that is exactly what he has been doing for decades to women ... I wanted to show him that I was not disempowered."
Rochelle, who lives in Paris now but is originally from New Jersey, said she wanted to "show him that the body can be aggressive and empowered. I can use my body as a political statement and not just a sexual object." #CosbyTrial
Rochelle said she expects to be fined over the disorderly conduct summary offense, and local authorities told her to stay away from the courthouse for the duration of the #CosbyTrial, which she says she is going to abide by.
Rochelle, who was on the Cosby Show five times when she was 12, but says she never had a bad experience with Cosby, said she was "hoping victims would feel some sort of connection with me. I wanted to express the anger that they maybe can't express." #CosbyTrial
Following the protest, the Montgomery County D.A.'s Office announced that Rochelle had been charged with disorderly conduct, which is defined as, “the intent to cause a public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm or recklessly creating a risk thereof. The actor creates a physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose.”
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Keshia Knight Pulliam Supports Bill Cosby on Day 1 of Sexual Assault Trial
If convicted, Rochelle will be assessed a fine and be required to pay court costs. She told Allyn that she expects to be fined, and plans to comply with an order to stay away from the courthouse for the duration of Cosby’s trial.
The 80-year-old comedian is currently facing a retrial for aggravated indecent assault -- for allegedly drugging and molesting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand in 2004 -- after a jury failed to reach a verdict last year. Five more of Cosby’s accusers, including model Janice Dickinson, will be permitted to testify about their alleged encounters with the Cosby Show star in this new trial, after the jury heard testimony from Constand and one other accuser in last year’s case.
More than 50 women have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct and sexual assault against Cosby over the last four years. The comedian has consistently denied all allegations against him.