Bill Cosby was once America’s favorite father, but now the famed actor/comedian is facing over a dozen serious accusations of sickening sexual assault. Our timeline breaks down all the important developments in this disturbing story.
2004: Andrea Constand, director of operations for Temple University’s women’s basketball team, alleges that what began as a mentorship turned into a visit to Cosby’s home where he drugged her, then “touched her breasts and vaginal area, rubbed his penis against her hand, and digitally penetrated” her, according to court documents.
2005: Lawyer Tamara Green appears on the Today Show and alleges that in the 1970s, Cosby tricked her into taking what she thought was fever medication and drove her to her apartment where he began “…groping me and kissing me and touching me and handling me and… taking off my clothes.” He later left $200 on her nightstand. Cosby’s lawyer issues a statement saying the incident did not happen.
A Pennsylvania district attorney declines to press charges against Cosby in the Constand case, citing a lack of evidence. She files a civil suit against him, and 13 other women are named as Jane Doe witnesses. Many of these women later go public with their own stories.
2006: Cosby and Constand settle the lawsuit for an undisclosed sum. People publishes an interview with Barbara Bowman, who detailed her own alleged assault at the hands of Cosby.
Oct. 16, 2014: The accusations were all but forgotten until a video of comedian Hannibal Buress calling Cosby a rapist during a standup bit goes viral. “Bill Cosby has the f***ing smuggest old black man public persona that I hate,” Buress says. “‘Pull your pants up, black people, I was on TV in the ’80s. I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom.’ Yeah, but you raped women, Bill Cosby. So, brings you down a couple notches… I’ve done this bit onstage and people think I’m making it up… when you leave here, Google ‘Bill Cosby rape.’ That shit has more results than ‘Hannibal Buress.'”
Oct. 27, 2014: Bowman reiterates many of the details from her original People interview to the Daily Mail, and says she kept seeing Cosby because her mother wanted her to.
Nov. 6, 2014: Cosby is caught on tape trying to intimidate an AP reporter into “scuttling” footage of him, refusing to comment on any of the rape allegations. “If you want to consider yourself to be serious, it will not appear anywhere,” he says.
Nov. 10, 2014: In a misguided attempt at restorative PR, Cosby’s team tweets a request that fans create a meme out of a photo of the actor. It did not go well.
Nov. 17, 2014: Cosby releases a statement through his lawyer that says he won’t talk about the resurfaced accusations after he clams up when asked about it on NPR’s Weekend Edition.
Another alleged victim, Joan Tarshis, steps forward, penning an essay for Hollywood Elsewhere.
Nov. 18, 2014: Whoopi Goldberg stands up for her old friend and says she has “a lot of questions” for alleged victim Bowman.
Janice Dickinson tells Howard Stern that Cosby drugged and raped her in 1982, and that she was pressured into changing the story in her autobiography.
Nov. 19, 2014: TV Land pulls The Cosby Show from its lineup, Netflix postpones an upcoming comedy special and NBC announces it is canceling Cosby’s upcoming sitcom.
Don Lemon engages in some serious victim blaming while interviewing Tarshis, asking why she didn’t fight back harder during the alleged attack.
Nov. 20, 2014: Three additional women go public with sexual assault claims going back decades. Theresa Seringese alleges Cosby drugged and raped her in 1976; she was to be a witness in the 2005 civil suit. Carla Ferrigno, wife of Incredible Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno, says Cosby forcibly grabbed and kissed her at a 1967 party when she was a teenager. Love, American Style actress Louisa Moritz tells TMZ Cosby forced her to perform oral sex in the green room of The Tonight Show in 1971.
Singer again denies the claims, saying, “People are trying to come up with these wild stories in order to justify why they have waited 40 to 50 years to disclose these ridiculous accusations.”
Cosby calls himself an “evil man” during a performance in the Bahamas to raise money, ironically enough, for a women’s group.
Nov. 21, 2014: Another three accusers step forward with stories dating back years: Kristina Ruehli from 1965, Renita Chaney Hill from a period of four years in the ’80s and Angelina Leslie from 1992.
The Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and the Virginia Theatre in Illinois cancel planned appearances by Cosby, but he receives a standing ovation after a performance at a sold-out show in Florida. He tells Florida Today, “I know people are tired of me not saying anything, but a guy doesn’t have to answer to innuendos. People should fact-check. People shouldn’t have to go through that and shouldn’t answer to innuendos.”
Nov. 22, 2014: Tweets purporting to be from former Cosby Show star Lisa Bonet, with whom Cosby had a notoriously tempestuous relationship, imply that karma is coming back to bite him. “According to the karma of past actions, one’s destiny unfolds, even though everyone wants to be so lucky,” read the tweet. “Nothing stays in the dark 4ever!” The account is later disabled and Bonet claims through a rep that it was run by an imposter.
Nov. 23, 2014: A former Cosby Show employee claims he was the comedian’s fixer, in charge of delivering payouts to eight different women and standing guard outside of Cosby’s dressing room while he was alone with young models.
Nov. 24, 2014: Page Six reports that back in 1989, Cosby allegedly got the National Enquirer to kill a story about an incident in Las Vegas involving swinging with Sammy Davis Jr. and some showgirls by handing them a scoop on his daughter Erin’s substance abuse problems. Erin reportedly does not speak to her parents again until her brother Ennis’ death in 1997.
Nov. 26, 2014: Cosby’s nephew defends his uncle against the rape allegations. “I believe he is innocent and unless the judicial system can prove otherwise, I stand behind him and his contributions,” Braxton Cosby, CEO of Cosby Media Productions, told FarrahGray.com.
Donna Motsinger reveals herself as one of the women meant to be a witness in the 2005 civil suit. She claims the comedian drugged and raped her in California in 1971.
A Cosby family friend tells People that Camille is standing by her husband. “She’s behind him,” the source said. “I think that their half-century of marriage and love and accomplishment, that outweighs things like this.”
Dec. 2, 2014: Judith Huth files a lawsuit against Cosby, claiming he sexually molested her at the Playboy Mansion in 1974 when she was just 15 years old. Cosby lashes out at the claims through Singer, accusing Huth of trying to extort him.
Dec. 5, 2014: Former Playboy Club waitress P.J. Masten told CNN Cosby sexually assaulted her in the ’70s, and claims at least a dozen Playboy bunnies have told her he assaulted them, too.
Dec. 10, 2014: Tamara Green (mentioned earlier) files a defamation lawsuit against Cosby, alleging his repeated denials — basically calling her a liar — have tarnished her reputation.
Dec. 13, 2014: Cosby tells the New York Post he expects black members of the media to remain neutral about the allegations.
Dec. 14, 2014: Spelman College suspends the Cosby Chair for the Humanities, a prestigious endowed professorship, indefinitely while the alleged assaults are investigated.
Dec. 15, 2014: Camille Cosby issues a statement throwing her support behind her husband and comparing his current situation to the University of Virginia rape case.
Dec. 16, 2014: Kathie Lee Gifford says Cosby tried to kiss her once in the ’70s but backed off when she told him no. “I will admit, towards the very last times I saw him, he did try to kiss me,” she explained. “I said, ‘Bill, no, we’re friends,’ and he said, ‘OK, goodnight,’ and I said, ‘Goodnight.’ And I went to my room, and he went into his room… a lot of married men come onto single women… but once I said, ‘No, absolutely not,’ he respected it.”
Cosby’s daughter, Evin, releases a statement to Access Hollywood, saying, “He is the FATHER you thought you knew. The Cosby Show was my today’s tv reality show.”
Model Chloe Goins claims that in 2008, during a party at the Playboy Mansion, Cosby drugged her and when she woke she found him licking her toes and masturbating. Her accusations may fall within the statute of limitations for sexual battery in the state of California, and Goins says she is meeting with the Los Angeles Police Department to discuss the case.
Jan. 6, 2015: Cosby’s former costar, Phylicia Rashad, defends her old friend, saying, “Forget these women. What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it’s orchestrated. I don’t know why or who’s doing it, but it’s the legacy. And it’s a legacy that is so important to the culture.”
Jan. 7, 2015: Three new accusers step forward in a press conference held by their attorney, Gloria Allred. Linda Kirkpatrick, Lynn Neal and a woman identified only as “Kacey” all claim Cosby drugged and assaulted them, echoing the words of his other alleged victims.
Jan. 8, 2015: Phylicia Rashad backtracks on her statement, saying she was never dismissive of Cosby’s accusers. “That is not what I said,” she told ABC News. “What I said is, ‘This is not about the women. This is about something else. This is about the obliteration of legacy.’ I am a woman. I would never say such a thing.”