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Gloria Allred files suit against Cobb County after Bill Cosby conflict

Attorney Gloria Allred has filed a lawsuit against Cobb County and the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority -- owners of Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre -- alleging that they violated her constitutional rights when she was denied entry to a Bill Cosby show earlier this year.

The California-based attorney has been an advocate for the dozens of women who publicly accused Cosby of sexual assault. She currently represents Judy Huth in a civil lawsuit alleging that Cosby forced Huth to perform a sex act at the age of 15.

In the case against Cobb County, Allred is seeking a court order to prevent the Centre from keeping ticket holders out of performances because of their viewpoints.

The May 2 show at the Centre was the last scheduled show of Cosby's tour. Allred said she arrived in town to attend the show and speak at a pre-show protest outside which included about 20 people chanting "We believe the women."

The reference was to the women whose stories of sexual assault have been in and out of the news for a decade. The alleged assaults span a 40-year time period. While Cosby has never been criminally charged, in a 2005 deposition he admitted to giving drugs to women he wanted to sleep with. He said all sex was consensual.

Since the deposition was unsealed in July, the comedian has been stripped of a number of honorary degrees by institutions hoping to distance themselves from the beleaguered performer.

Allred said after she spoke at the protest outside, she attempted to use her ticket to enter the venue but was told by a Cobb County police officer that she was on the "list."

"I was planning to be at the performance and view the performance," said Allred at a press conference in Atlanta. She was not, she said, planning to protest during the show.

Though she explained this to the officers, she was told that if she refused to leave, she would be considered a "criminal trespass" and could be arrested. She and others were turned away, she said, based solely on their viewpoints about Cosby.

Allred left, as did 12 others who were prohibited from entering, said Allred's attorney Cary Wiggins. About 70 names appeared on a list which had been compiled by the Cobb County Police Department in conjunction with Cosby associates.

"Cobb Energy Centre is owned and managed by an authority that is a government entity," said Wiggins. "When government decides who can attend a public performance in a public venue based on their viewpoints, there is a problem."

Cobb County police referred inquiries about the lawsuit to officials at the Cobb Performing Arts Centre who decline to comment on a pending legal matter.

The case has been assigned to Judge Timothy Batten. No date has been set.

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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.