Lise-Lotte Lublin is one of dozens of women who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual misconduct. This spring, she took the stand at his retrial, which resulted in his conviction, and she intends to speak at his sentencing hearing. The Daily Beast asked her what she would say to Christine Blasey Ford, who has to decide whether to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh attacked her in the 1980s. Here’s what Lublin, a Nevada teacher, said:
No one can tell a sexual assault victim when they should testify. And I should know, because I was sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby and I had to make the decision whether to go public with my story and, later, whether to take the stand in the courtroom and testify against him.
When I think about Christine Blasey Ford having to make this decision, I want to tell her: You have to be the one to decide and you have to be ready. You have to know there will be backlash and you have to be prepared to take that on. But I also want to tell her: Every victim of an attempt, of an assault, of abuse has got your back.
In 2014, when I told my mother what happened with Cosby in 1989, she was so angry she called the Dr. Phil show. A few days later, they called me—I was home with my husband, Ben, after a Christmas party at work—and the producer said she needed to know in the next hour if I would go on the show.
I was scared because going on Dr. Phil was so public. I was worried about my children—my daughter was 7 and my son was 9. In fact, the first thing out of my husband’s mouth was, “Our children. What about our children?” I thought maybe I would go in disguise, incognito. But when I heard I would have the opportunity to meet other women who had been assaulted by Cosby, meeting them became very important to me, so I did it.
Afterward, I definitely felt like I made the wrong decision. We received death threats. Social media was brutal. You could click on a story about Cosby and you would see comments about how all of us were sluts and whores. I went through the turmoil and the shame and embarrassment, and my husband was devastated because he could see that I was broken. He was watching this butterfly he had known for 14 years turn into this ugly moth.
But then something happened: I realized that I needed to do something that was bigger than me, that it wasn’t just about me any longer. And my husband and I figured out how we could fight back. We would fight the laws that limited our ability to testify, so we changed the statute of limitations for sexual assault in Nevada from four years to 20 years, and we inspired survivors to get it abolished in California. We realized the laws were something we could tackle and they would make a difference for everyone.
And that’s what I would remind Dr. Ford: This can be bigger than her. If she can operate from a place where she inspires other victims (and don’t get me wrong, she has every right to feel the way she does, and she still needs to be a little bit selfish so she can heal) it absolutely empowers you.
When I was subpoenaed to testify at Cosby’s retrial in April, I’ll admit I was uneasy. This was uncharted waters and I didn’t know how to navigate it. It was out of my league and I didn’t know what to expect or how to behave. And my friend Linda said to me, “Lise, you are doing your civic duty—that’s it. You know the truth, so there are no details to get wrong.” And when I looked at it from that perspective, it felt different. I realized I had the power to say exactly what happened and Cosby couldn’t say one word against that, because it’s my truth.
Still, the night before I was going to testify, I had a breakdown. I was in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, in the mall, looking for boots, and all of a sudden, I could feel the adrenaline. My hands started to shake and my heart was throbbing. I became overwhelmed and started looking for my husband, and I said, ‘You gotta help me. I’m starting to lose it now.” I sat down with Ben and with my friend Catherine, who was my corroborating witness, and she reiterated what Linda had talked about: “This is your truth and you’re just going to say it in court.”
Getting off the stand in April and walking away was such a relief because it was exhausting to witness his lawyer’s failed attempts to find fault and discrepancies in my testimony. But there was no variation in what I said, and she could not twist my testimony, because I had the truth on my side.
That’s what Dr. Ford needs to remember. This is an accomplished individual, who is educated, who knows what is going on in the world. There is no reason for anyone to look at her and not believe every word coming out of her mouth. This is a woman who shouldn’t be afraid of being in that room. It is intimidating, but she is a leader and a champion, and all she needs is the truth.
So it’s all about what is in her heart. Does she feel she has the power? If she does, she should be out there and fighting to the death. Go for it! She probably feels so alone, and the thing is she is not. She has my support and she has my husband’s support, and I can get all the ladies from the Cosby case to cheer her along. She doesn’t see it because all she can see right now is the hatred, but the love is here.