Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Allegations: How We Got Here

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Bill Cosby (Getty Images)
Bill Cosby (Getty Images)

Bill Cosby is "America's Dad" no more.

The beloved comedian — who's best known for playing Cliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show, which ruled the airwaves when it debuted 30 years ago — is at the center of a firestorm with no fewer than 16 women accusing him of sexual assault. The latest accuser is none other than supermodel Janice Dickinson, who came forward on Tuesday to detail how she was drugged and raped — a common charge made by the accusers — by the entertainer in 1982 when she was 27.

Cosby's camp called Dickinson's claims an "outrageous defamatory lie," thus breaking their vow, made over the weekend, not to "dignify these allegations with any comment."

Whether or not Cosby, who has been married to wife Camille since 1964, will discuss them, the accusations aren't going away. In fact, they're mounting. Let's look back at how the 77-year-old went from goofy sweaters and silly Jell-O Pudding Pop ads to being at the center of some very disturbing allegations…

January 2004: Andrea Constand, the director of operations for the women's basketball program at Cosby's alma mater Temple University, claims the star drugged and sexually assaulted her in his Philadelphia-area mansion.

Jan. 13, 2005: Constand goes to the authorities with her story alleging that Cosby, who did a stand-up routine about drugging women's drinks in 1969, invited her to his home, gave her three blue pills to combat a bout of stress she was having, and, after she became dizzy, began "touching her breast and placing her hand on his penis," according to the police report. She woke up to find her bra unhooked and her clothes in disarray. Cosby's attorney dubs the charges "utterly preposterous" and "plainly bizarre."

Feb. 10, 2005: Tamara Green, a California attorney, appears on the Today show and says that Cosby drugged and groped her in the 1970s. Then an aspiring model, she met him through a friend. Over lunch, he gave her what he said was a Contact pill because she was suffering a cold. She started to feel worse and dizzy, so he helped her back to her apartment — and started removing her clothes. However, she put up a fight and Cosby ultimately left, leaving two $100 bills on her coffee table. She said she was finally going public with her story because the district attorney in Constand's case criticized her for waiting too long before reporting the assault. "It was at that time I decided that if there were only two us, one a long time ago and one right now, then that's two too many," she said. Cosby's rep said that he had never heard of Green and called the allegations "absolutely false."

Feb. 22, 2005: The district attorney decides not to press criminal charges against Cosby, citing "insufficient credible and admissible evidence."

March 8, 2005: Constand files a civil suit against Cosby, seeking at least $150,000 in damages. Her lawyers state that they have 13 witnesses, listed in the papers as Jane Does, who had come forward with similar claims of Cosby drugging and/or abusing them.

June 23, 2005: Beth Ferrier is the next Jane Doe to go public. In an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News, she says she was a model and recent college grad when she met the star through her agent in 1984. For six months they had an affair. After calling things off, Cosby reached out to her a few weeks later and invited her to a show he was doing in her area. After drinking a cappuccino in his dressing room after the show, she claimed she blacked out. When she came to, "I was in the back of my car all alone. My clothes were a mess. My bra was undone. My top was untucked. And I'm sitting there going, 'Oh my God. Where am I?' What's going on?'" When she confronted Cosby, he said, "You just had too much to drink."

Nov. 2006: Cosby settles the civil suit with Constand before she or any of the 13 Jane Does testify. Soon after, Barbara Bowman, who would have been a witness, comes forward to Philadelphia magazine. She said that as an 18-year-old model and aspiring actress in 1985, she met Cosby through her agent and he became her mentor. A year later, he assaulted her in a Reno hotel room. "I was screaming and crying and yelling and begging him to stop," she said. She later told a lawyer, who laughed at her.

Feb. 7, 2014: After the Woody Allen child abuse accusations resurface, Newsweek does a story on how Cosby similarly had accusations against him that were much discussed, then seemingly forgotten. For their story, they interviewed Green, who again detailed her assault and talked about "other women beyond the original 13 who were not in the lawsuit" and contacted her through the years sharing similar stories about Cosby. They "apologized that they could not come forward because they did not want their husbands or their children or their social circles to know," she said.

Feb. 12, 2014: Days later, Newsweek runs an interview with Bowman, who gives more details of the crimes she was allegedly a victim of. "I was assaulted a number of times from age 18 to 19," she said. "Cosby would warn me before out-of-town trips, 'You aren't going to fight me this time, are you?'" The final assault took place in Atlantic City, when, "He threw me on the bed and blocked me with his elbow and got on top of me and started taking his pants off and I was screaming and crying… I fought so hard and I was screaming so loud that he got mad and threw me aside and got away from me, and that was it." Bowman, who was dropped by her agent after the incident, recalled Cosby saying, "'I better never ever hear your name or see your face ever again.'"

Oct. 16, 2014: Comedian Hannibal Buress calls Cosby a "rapist" during a stand-up show in Philadelphia. "You raped women, Bill Cosby," Buress said. "So, [that] brings you down a couple notches." And just like that, the controversial topic is back in the news.

Oct. 31, 2014: Cosby cancels an appearance on the Queen Latifah Show.

Nov. 13, 2014: Bowman pens an essay for the Washington Post entitled, "Bill Cosby raped me. Why did it take 30 years for people to believe my story?" and noted, "Only when a male comedian called Cosby a rapist did the accusation take hold." Cosby cancels an upcoming appearance on Late Show With David Letterman.

Nov. 15, 2014: An interview with Cosby and his wife on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday airs. During the segment, which was recorded days earlier, he is silent when asked to address the sexual abuse allegations.

Nov. 16, 2014: A lawyer for Cosby releases the following statement: "Over the last several weeks, decade-old, discredited allegations against Mr. Cosby have resurfaced. The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true. Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment. He would like to thank all his fans for the outpouring of support and assure them that, at age 77, he is doing his best work. There will be no further statement from Mr. Cosby or any of his representatives." Hours later, former actress, music industry publicist, and journalist Joan Tarshis went public with her own allegations against Cosby. She met him in 1969 when she was 19. While in his bungalow at Universal Studios, The Bill Cosby Show star made her a drink. "The next thing I remember was coming to on his couch while being undressed," she said. "Through the haze I thought I was being clever when I told him I had an infection and he would catch it and his wife would know he had sex with someone. But he just found another orifice to use." That was one of two times that it happened.

Nov. 17, 2014: Tarshis appears on CNN Tonight to share her story for the first time and also spoke to Philadelphia magazine about her fear of going public up until that point. "What could I say? I was 19 years old. I felt, He's Bill Cosby. He'll lawyer himself up. I don't have a lawyer. It's going to be he said, she said, and they'll look at me like I'm crazy," she told the magazine. "Keep in mind that if I had come forward back then, I would have been the first one that would have said this."

Nov. 18, 2014: TV personality and model Janice Dickinson came forward to Entertainment Tonight to say that she too was a victim. She told the show that she had dinner with the funnyman in Lake Tahoe in 1982 after one of his shows. The now 59-year-old recalled complaining of a stomachache and Cosby giving her a pill and a glass of wine. The last thing she remembered before passing out was, "Bill Cosby in a patchwork robe, dropping his robe and getting on top of me." When she awoke the next morning, "I wasn't wearing my pajamas" and she knew "that I had been sexually assaulted by this man." She also noted that in a draft of her 2002 autobiography, No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World's First Supermodel, she wrote about the assault, but Cosby's lawyers pressured her and HarperCollins to remove the allegation. Reps for Cosby call Dickinson's story an “outrageous defamatory lie.”

Nov. 19, 2014: After Netflix announces they're postponing the star's upcoming special, Bill Cosby 77, NBC confirms that they scrapped plans to do a sitcom with the actor, and TV Land pulls reruns of The Cosby Show, effective immediately. The Associated Press releases a previously unaired interview clip with Cosby and his wife Camille, shot earlier this month, during which he says, "There's no response" when asked about the allegations. He goes on to ask the reporter to show some "integrity" and edit that question out of the interview. Meanwhile, Raven-Symone, who played his granddaughter on The Cosby Show, posted an Instagram saying that she was "never" taken advantage of by the actor, an apparent online rumor. "Everyone on that show treated me with nothing but kindness," she wrote. "Now keep me out of this!"

 

Cosby has a series of tour dates and they remain unchanged, according to his management team. A spokesperson for Temple University told the Temple News that Cosby is still on the Board of Trustees, but declined further comment.

This story was originally published Nov. 18. 2014 at 2 p.m. ET.

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