Model Janice Dickinson tells jury Cosby raped her at Lake Tahoe hotel room in 1982

NORRISTOWN, PA — Former model Janice Dickinson told a jury Thursday, April 12, that Bill Cosby raped her in 1982 at a Lake Tahoe hotel room.

Dickinson said the assault occurred after Cosby her a pill he claimed would ease her menstrual cramps, but instead left her immobilized and unable to stop an assault she called “gross.”

Dickinson, the fourth of five accusers to take the witness stand at Cosby’s sex assault retrial, told jurors she was “rendered motionless” by the pill as Cosby got on top of her in his Lake Tahoe, Nevada, hotel room. She said he smelled of cigars and espresso.

“I didn’t consent to this. Here was ‘America’s Dad,’ on top of me. A married man, father of five kids, on top of me,” Dickinson said. “I was thinking how wrong it was. How very wrong it was.”

Dickinson, 27 at the time, testified she felt vaginal pain and, after waking up the next morning, noticed semen between her legs. She said Cosby looked at her “like I was crazy” when she confronted him about what had happened.

“I wanted to hit him. I wanted to punch him in the face,” she said.

A former TV personality who has called herself the “world’s first supermodel,” Dickinson became one of the first women to go public with her allegations against Cosby when she told her story on “Entertainment Tonight” in 2014.

Another accuser, taking the witness stand after Dickinson, said Cosby prodded her to drink two shots in his Las Vegas hotel suite, then had her sit between his knees and started petting her head.

Lise-Lotte Lublin told jurors she lost consciousness and doesn’t remember anything else about that night in 1989 — a time when Cosby was at the height of his fame starring as sweater-wearing father-of-five Dr. Cliff Huxtable on America’s top-rated TV show, “The Cosby Show.”

“I trusted him because he’s ‘America’s Dad,'” Lublin said. “I trusted him because he’s a figure people trusted for many years, including myself.”

Dickinson and Lublin were among five additional accusers whom prosecutors called to the stand to show Cosby had a history of drugging and molesting women long before he was charged with violating Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

The 80-year-old comedian says his sexual encounter with Constand was consensual. His first trial ended in a hung jury.

The defense has dismissed the other women’s testimony as “prosecution by distraction.”

“These women proved that they were here to back up their sister — they got their sister’s back,” Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said Thursday outside court.

Dickinson, the only celebrity accuser to testify against Cosby, parried with defense attorneys who seized on discrepancies between her testimony Thursday and what she wrote about their encounter in her 2002 autobiography.

She told jurors she wanted to include details about the assault, but wound up telling a highly sanitized version in which there was no sex at all, let alone a rape, because her publisher told her the legal department would never let the allegations against Cosby make it to print.

Dickinson said she went along because she needed the money — and feared Cosby would ruin her career.

“It’s all a fabrication there. It was written by ghostwriters. I wanted a paycheck,” she said.

Dickinson testified she got to know Cosby after he called her agent and said he wanted to meet and possibly mentor her as she looked to expand her career into singing and acting. The first accuser to testify, Heidi Thomas, said she met Cosby the same way.

She said Cosby invited her to Lake Tahoe after an initial meeting at his New York City townhouse, where he had given her an acting manual. Cosby tracked her down to Bali, where she was modeling for an oil company calendar, and asked her to Lake Tahoe “to further talk about my career.”

In Tahoe, she tested out her vocal range with Cosby’s musical director, watched Cosby perform and then joined the two men for dinner at the hotel. She said that’s where she started to get cramps, and that’s when Cosby produced a little blue pill. She took it and soon became woozy and “slightly out of it.”

Cosby’s musical director left, Dickinson said, and Cosby told her: “We’ll continue this conversation upstairs.”

Dickinson had a Polaroid camera with her, she said, and snapped photos of Cosby in the room wearing a colorful robe and talking on the telephone. Then Cosby pounced.

“Shortly after I took the pictures and he finished the conversation, he got on top of me,” Dickinson said. “His robe opened up. … I couldn’t move.

“I didn’t fly to Tahoe to have sex with Mr. Cosby,” she said.

Prosecutors hope the five accusers’ testimony will help bolster Constand, the former women’s basketball administrator at Cosby’s alma mater, Temple University. Constand, who will take the stand later in the trial, alleges Cosby gave her pills and molested her. The defense says she set him up to score a big payday. Cosby settled her civil suit for $3.4 million.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand and the other women have done.

Tahoe Women’s Community Fund announces 2018 grant recipients

The Tahoe Women's Community Fund recently announced its grant recipients for the 2018 cycle.

The nonprofit had over 25 organizations apply for grants. With a total of $68,000 available this cycle, the Women's Community Fund was able to award grants to more than 13 nonprofits on South Shore, according to a press release. Project summaries for each grant recipient can be found at tahoewomenscommunityfund.org.

To honor the recipients and all grant applicants, the Women's Fund will host a gala on Wednesday, May 16, from 6-9 p.m. at the Tahoe Beach Retreat. Tickets are available at tahoewomenscommunityfund.org for $35.

The following organizations (grouped by topic) received grant funding:

Focus Grant Recipients in the category of Poverty & Housing:

Live Violence Free ($10,000) for the Supportive Housing Program for Victims of Abuse

Bread and Broth for Kids ($10,000) for the Weekend Food Program

SOS Outreach ($10,000) for the Progressive Outdoor Leadership Program

Focus Grant Recipients in the category of Children and Youth

Family Resource Center ($7,500) for the Leadership Starts Now Project for at-risk Youth

LTUSD Elementary Schools ($10,000) for the We Care Program

Assistance League Sierra Foothills ($2,500) for Clothing Kids with Confidence

Impact Grant Recipients in the category of Mental Health & Wellness:

Sierra Child & Family Services ($3,000) for the Peer Support Project

Soroptimist International of Tahoe Sierra ($3,000) for the Drug Store Project

Impact Grant Recipients in the category of Education & Literacy:

Boys & Girls Club of SLT ($3,000) for the Reading Intervention Program

SLT Library ($3,000) for the Digital Access Library Cards for 6th graders Program

Impact Grant Recipients in the category of Community and Environment:

Tahoe Institute of Natural Resources ($2,228) for Environmental Education Experiences

Lake Tahoe Shining Stars ($3,000) for the Bijou Ballet Club

Tahoe Rim Trail Association ($772) for the Stewardship Support Program

California lawmakers advance measures to curb opioid crisis

SACRAMENTO — California lawmakers advanced 10 opioid-related bills Tuesday in an effort to address the drug abuse crisis in the state, including a proposal that would let California share prescription records with other states.

Half of the bills passed by a legislative committee would increase monitoring or make it easier to track opioid prescriptions to help police and doctors spot problematic prescriptions. Others would place limits on doctors prescribing the addictive drugs to children or increase access to addiction treatments.

Tens of thousands of Americans die every year as a result of opioid addiction. In California more than 2,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2016. Lawmakers say the problem is particularly bad in rural areas.

Assemblyman Evan Low, a Campbell Democrat who led the committee meeting, said the opioid crisis has been “devastating” in the state.

“There has been a misconception that California has not been particularly hit by this opioid crisis, but this is not true,” said Low, who represents a Silicon Valley-area district.

The bills still require approval by the full Assembly and Senate before they advance to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

Low’s AB1751 would allow California’s justice department to share prescription records with other states. It’s aimed at making it easier to spot patients who cross state lines to get more prescriptions for opioid drugs.

Opponents are concerned the bill doesn’t do enough to safeguard patients’ privacy. The bill limits data sharing to states that meet certain security standards, but Samantha Corbin, a lobbyist representing the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the requirements don’t provide enough protection for patients.

Megan Allred of the California Medical Association, a trade group that represents doctors, raised concerns about many of the bills and echoed the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s worries about privacy.

The proposal passed out of the committee unanimously.

Another bill, AB2741, passed Tuesday by the committee would limit doctors from prescribing more than five days’ worth of opioid drugs to minors unless it is medically necessary. The bill also requires doctors to discuss risks posed by the addictive drugs with children and their caretakers and requires a guardian to sign a consent form.

“Overprescribing of opioid medications has directly contributed to the addiction crisis,” said Autumn Burke, a Los Angeles Democrat who authored the bill.

The California Medical Association opposes the legislation because it doesn’t give doctors enough discretion, Allred said.

Lawmakers also passed a bill to let police purchase overdose treatments without a prescription. Another would require doctors use electronic prescriptions, which can be tracked more easily and are harder to fraudulently change, when authorizing opioid drugs.

California pot regulators send cease order to 954 businesses

DENVER (AP) — Nearly 1,000 individual cannabis businesses have been sent cease-and-desist letters or emails by California regulators during an ongoing enforcement process, a first step in a long effort to ensure the state’s industry is fully regulated and operating like those in more mature markets.

According to a list obtained by Marijuana Business Daily, as of April 4, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) had sent cease-and-desist letters or emails to at least 954 businesses that the agency identified as potentially operating without full legal permission.

The list provides insight into the locations of many of the marijuana companies that are either flaunting California’s new regulated market or simply having a difficult time obtaining local permits — but a lot remains unknown about the state’s gray- and black-market activity.

The vast majority of the cease-and-desist letters — 64 percent of those with some sort of listed address — are in the Los Angeles metro area. The number of letters targeting businesses in L.A. and its surrounding municipalities is 393.

The cannabis bureau is responsible for licensing retailers, delivery services, microbusinesses, distributors and testing labs.

Retailers, in particular, and delivery services accounted for the bulk of the cease-and-desist letters, according to BCC spokesman Alex Traverso.

The cannabis bureau’s list includes 1,245 entries, though 291 of those businesses appear to be duplicates, in part because individual companies received more than one letter.

The remaining 954 businesses are either unique entities or part of companies with multiple locations.

It’s difficult to ascertain where many of the operators are actually based, since the bureau’s list doesn’t include addresses or even regions for 341 of the companies.

Here are some findings that could be discerned from the list:

—The second-most letters went to cannabis businesses in the Bay Area, with 94 recipients in San Francisco and surrounding towns.

—Over 230 businesses in Los Angeles proper were sent cease-and-desist letters, nearly five times more than the number of state-licensed retailers in the city.

—Dozens of businesses in Anaheim and Costa Mesa — two Orange County cities that prohibit the retail sale of medical and adult-use cannabis — received letters.

—At least 16 percent of the letter recipients — or 153 of 954 — are marijuana delivery services, based on an MJBizDaily analysis. However, that percentage could be much higher considering the number of businesses on the list that don’t have an address or region.

‘Encouraging’ responses

The letters are having an impact, Traverso said.

It’s difficult to determine how much of an effect they’re having, however, because it’s tough to judge how many recipients are interested in taking part in the regulated market and how many are illicit operators trying to dodge paying taxes and licensing fees.

Traverso couldn’t specify how many letter recipients have responded to the bureau or begun the licensing process because of the letter campaign.

However, the responses have been “encouraging,” he said.

“There’s been a pretty decent amount of activity surrounding the letters,” Traverso said.

“Not just the letter, but us following up on the letter to make sure they got the letter and to look at next steps,” he continued.

“It’s slow going, but so far, we’re relatively encouraged by the number of people who received the letter and said, ‘OK, I’m going to get my application in.'”

MJBizDaily was able to confirm that of the 954 companies sent letters by the bureau, 76 still have operational websites and 22 others’ websites have been deactivated or taken down.

Traverso declined to speculate on what those developments may indicate.

But he said more license applications are being submitted.

“We’re hopeful that those people are moving in the right direction and getting their ducks in a row and hopefully getting their state license,” he said.

Beyond that, Traverso said, the cannabis bureau has not determined what actions may be forthcoming against companies that don’t comply with the cease-and-desist orders.

“We know we need to get out there and make that next step,” he said, “because that’s the way people are going to say, ‘The state’s going to crack down if you don’t get a license.'”

Licensees getting letters

At least three companies that received several cease-and-desist letters already have obtained temporary business permits from the state, MJBizDaily confirmed, and there could be more.

Those three include distributor and retailer Flow Kana and retail chain The Apothecarium, both in San Francisco, as well as San Diego retailer Urbn Leaf.

All three have multiple licenses through the BCC.

“We received those letters,” Apothecarium owner Ryan Hudson told MJBizDaily, noting that his company got at least one for each of his three locations.

“At first, we thought they were a scam, because we have all of our documentation,” Hudson said.

“So we emailed and called BCC several times, and we didn’t really get any adequate answers, to be honest.

“They said, ‘We looked in our system, and you guys are compliant, so just disregard the notice.'”

Hudson said he believes it was an honest mistake by the bureau and has moved on, but he said one of his staffers that was in touch with the BCC learned that the agency was receiving similar inquiries from other companies.

“I think it was just an administrative error,” he said.

Flow Kana also received several cease-and-desist letters, including one in February, according to CEO Michael Steinmetz.

“It simply said they thought we were operating without a license and need to cease until we obtained one,” he wrote in an email to MJBizDaily.

“We called them immediately, shared all our license numbers, they confirmed it was a mistake and cleared us to continue operating legally.”

Steinmetz praised the bureau for its outreach, calling the letters “a reasonable approach to identifying unlicensed businesses.

“It was a good reminder why we work so hard as a company toward compliance and professionalism.”

Falling through the cracks

Letters also went to cannabis companies that are actively attempting to get licenses from the state but are having trouble getting the required permits from their local governments.

That’s the situation facing Zach Pitts, whose company, L.A.-based Goddess Delivers, appeared on the bureau’s list of letter recipients.

Pitts, also the president of the California Cannabis Delivery Alliance, pointed out that many existing companies in the L.A. area are located in municipalities that haven’t been licensing delivery businesses like his or are taking a long time to do so.

That’s put Goddess Delivers and other operators in the position of not being able to get a state permit, no matter how hard they may be trying. California law stipulates that marijuana businesses must receive local approval before they will be granted a state license.

And that means that such companies’ histories of paying taxes or compliance is practically irrelevant.

“It is this issue we’re running up against,” Pitts said, “where there are a lot of people in the process of getting licensed and then there are a lot of people who, through no fault of their own, licensing is just delayed.

“It’s been pretty much constant delays for L.A. delivery services.”

The situation is frustrating, Pitts said, because he sees participation in California’s regulated market as the smartest long-term play for any cannabis company, and because a lot of businesses receiving cease-and-desist letters are actively trying to be part of the legal industry.

“I’ve spent a lot of time really convincing cannabis businesses we need to get into the regulated market,” he said.

“You have two options: Go full black market, or accept the regulations and become an upstanding, tax-paying business.

“You can’t really straddle this line anymore, (but) it seems that at every turn, they’re being punished for trying to follow the rules, almost.”

Olympians back California plan for disclosures on doctors

SACRAMENTO — Olympians who were abused by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar spoke in support of legislation Monday that would make California the first state to require doctors to tell their patients if they are on probation for wrongdoing, including sexual misconduct.”Every effort must be made to make sure patients have every piece of information that is vital to their health and safety,” Jordyn Wieber, who won a gold medal in gymnastics at the 2012 Olympics, told reporters at the California Capitol.

The measure could help protect women from being abused by doctors, said Wieber, who was joined by gymnast and 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Jamie Dantzscher, several other female athletes and other women who say they have been sexually abused by doctors.

Patients can find information online about which doctors are on probation if they know where to look. The measure from Democratic state Sen. Jerry Hill would force doctors to tell patients about their probation status and the basic details of its terms.

It comes after Nassar, a former sports doctor who worked for Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, the organization responsible for training Olympians, was sentenced this year to decades in prison. He has admitted sexually abusing women and girls under the guise of medical treatment.

Hill pointed to the increased attention around sexual misconduct from the #MeToo movement in advocating for the measure that has not yet been heard by a committee.

Versions of the proposal have failed twice before. It died in the Assembly last year after Hill refused to support changes he said eviscerated the reporting requirements. The previous year, it failed in the Senate.

The California Medical Association has opposed past versions, arguing it would be unfair and overly burdensome on doctors’ time. Hill criticized the group’s opposition Monday.

“This is another unfortunate attempt by Senator Hill to score political points and collect headlines through unscrupulous attacks on the medical profession,” group President Theodore M. Mazer said in a statement. The California Medical Association “has long been dedicated to real solutions that properly investigate and remove bad actors from our profession.”

On average, 124 doctors are placed on probation every year in California for misconduct such as sexual assault or serious medical errors, Hill said. He cited several California doctors on probation for touching patients’ genitals after they came in for unrelated ailments.

“Currently, doctors have to notify their insurer, their hospital or clinic about their probation status, but patients receive no notice,” the Silicon Valley Democrat said. “They are left in the dark and susceptible to future abuse.”

Tiffany Thomas Lopez said Nassar had already been reported to Michigan State University officials by the time she began playing softball for the school but that the complaints had been ignored and she was never told.

She said legislation like Hill’s that require more disclosure of misconduct could have helped people like her.

“Bills like this could have helped save so many of our sister survivors,” said Jeanette Antolin, a former member of the U.S. gymnastics team. “We should be doing everything in our power to make sure people feel safe going to the doctor.”

California bill would create health care price controls

SACRAMENTO — California’s government would set prices for health care services under a measure in the state Assembly.

The bill introduced Monday comes amid a fierce debate in the Capitol about rising health care costs. It’s likely to draw intense opposition from physicians, hospitals and other health care providers.

The measure by Democratic Assemblyman Ash Kalra of San Jose would affect private health plans, including those offered by employers and purchased by individuals. Prices would be set by an independent commission.

The measure is backed by several influential unions frustrated that health care costs are gobbling an increasing share of compensation.

Health care providers have long argued that price controls would encourage doctors to move out of state or retire, making it harder for people to see a physician when they’re sick.

Market Pulse: Be prudent … or at least cautious

There have been many times in my long career when some things were "certain."

In 1999 and 2000 people were certain tech and internet stocks would rise with no end, as if trees grow to the sky. In recent years there were times when investors were certain interest rates would rise and not by a little. After all, Fed chiefs Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen told us so.

On the other side, in the 2008-09 financial crisis there were those who were certain the financial system was about to collapse. Buy treasuries yielding close to zero, they said. Something is better than nothing. There were similar panics (the taper tantrum) after that.

At times stock market bears said get out now while you can, or the opposite (last chance to get in). There are always people on the extremes. The problem is that extreme results seldom happen because there is no constituency for them. In most aspects of life, moderation carries the day.

So here we are. Most people expect interest rates to rise in fits and starts for years. Fed chief Jerome Powell has said as much. I can make a case for that as the economy expands and demands for credit grow, but nothing is certain.

Suppose for whatever reason credit demands do not rise and interest rates stay where they are (historically very low) or edge up or down a bit. The prudent thing to do is cover both outcomes to one degree or another and for clients that is exactly what I do.

Investments that do well when interest rates rise include adjustable preferreds and bank-loan funds.

When rates fall or stay low, fixed-rate bonds, preferreds and exchange-traded debt do well. So do utility stocks, telecoms and better-yielding issues.

Stocks do well when the cause of upward pressure on interest rates is an expanding economy, which means profits are rising as well. Stocks did very well in the 1980s because GDP was growing at a rate we can only hope for now. It didn't matter that interest rates also rose — it was a bull market.

The prudent strategy is to have one foot in each camp. Own some vehicles that will do well if rates rise and some if they don't, or if in fact they fall. One needn't be 50-50.

My favorite adjustable rate preferred is Goldman Sachs Series 'D' (GS.D). For fixed-rate preferreds, my clients own Saul Centers 6.125 percent Series 'D' (BFS.D) and Renaissance Re 5.375 percent Series 'E' (RNR.E).

More on those and others in an upcoming article.

David Vomund is an Incline Village-based fee-only money manager. Information is found at http://www.VomundInvestments.com or by calling 775-832-8555. Clients hold the positions mentioned in this article. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Consult your financial advisor before purchasing any security.

Yosemite reopens after flooding from California deluge

SAN FRANCISCO — Yosemite National Park reopened Sunday after flooding that washed out roads during a strong Pacific storm, park officials said.

Forecasters said up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain fell over two days as rivers swelled in Northern California.

Roads within Yosemite Valley were swamped by up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) of water that affected electrical and water systems. Most facilities reopened at midday, but officials warned that traffic could be slow as cleanup work continues.

The area was closed Friday as a powerful “Pineapple Express” storm moved through. The heaviest rain was in the northern Sierra and in coastal counties from San Francisco north to Mendocino during a 48-hour period ending Saturday afternoon.

Flooding was also reported along the Truckee River near Lake Tahoe.

Further north, water flows into Lake Oroville following the deluge were not enough to require opening the partially rebuilt spillway at the troubled dam there, officials said.

The lake level stayed below 800 feet (244 meters) and inflows were tapering off, the California Department of Water Resources said. Officials said last week they would use the main spillway if the water level reaches 830 feet (253 meters) — but they hoped to avoid it.

The spillway was destroyed last year during a crisis that forced the evacuation of downstream towns amid fears of catastrophic flooding. About a third of it has been fully rebuilt with reinforced structural concrete but the rest has temporary repairs.

State officials said it’s safe to use if needed.