If you're going to go up against Bill Cosby, you better be prepared for the spotlight.
That's the word from a Philadelphia judge, who's refusing to keep hidden the identities of nine women who have agreed to testify against the 67-year-old entertainer in a sexual-assault civil lawsuit brought by a former acquaintance.
U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno ruled on Thursday that he will not issue a special order protecting the women from public exposure, writing that "allegations of harm by each of the Jane Doe witnesses are unsubstantiated broad allegations."
Andrea Constand, 31, went to authorities in January with allegations that drugged and groped her at his suburban Philadelphia home a year earlier. After local prosecutors declined to press criminal charges, citing insufficient evidence, the Canadian native took her doping and groping case to civil court in March.
Cosby has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, called the allegations bogus and apologized if his actions were "misinterpreted" by Constand.
Constand's lawsuit said she had been contacted by 12 women who were willing to come forward claiming Cosby sexually assaulted them in a similar manner. Lawyers for nine of those women asked that their identities be kept under wraps, citing a variety of reasons, including: embarrassment for their elderly parents, fear of a deteriorating bipolar condition brought on by intense media scrutiny and fear of being humiliated and losing a job. So far the women have only been listed as Jane Does in court documents.
But the judge ruled the women failed to show "good cause"--in other words, those explanations didn't fly.
Robreno did note, however, that while the court declined to grant them anonymity, there's no reason both sides in the case couldn't agree to shield the women. Such a move is unlikely, considering how hard Cosby's legal team fought to have the identities disclosed. His lead attorney, Patrick O'Connor, was unavailable for comment Friday.
Dolores Troiani, an attorney for Constand, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the women are worried about having their privacy invaded after learning that Constand has been flooded with phone calls and had visitors turning up at her home unannounced. That sentiment was echoed by Ralph Jacobs, a lawyer representing one of the Jane Does.
"We're disappointed that the court decided not to order Mr. Cosby and his lawyers to keep the names of the parties confidential," Jacobs said in the newspaper. But he added that "we're encouraged that this kind of information is normally not made public."
While some of the nine Jane Does may opt not to testify now that their identities will be made known, Cosby will still have to contend with allegations in open court from Costand and other witnesses.
With Robreno denying Cosby's request for a gag order in the case, three women have gone public with similar stories.
One of those, 38-year-old Babara Bowman, said Cosby drugged and fondled her two decades ago when she was 18 and she felt obliged to speak out on behalf of Constand and the other witnesses.
"I felt it was my duty," she told the Inquirer. "I hope they stick to their guns...if we remain faceless and nameless, we are not people."
Tamara Green, a 57-year-old lawyer and former model, who told the Philadelphia Daily News that Cosby drugged and attacked her more than 30 years ago.
Another former model, Beth Ferrier, 46, told the Daily News that the erstwhile Cliff Huxtable spiked her coffee and fondled her when she passed out.