At least 15 women have come forward alleging the comedian assaulted them.
For the past few weeks, it seems like every day brings new revelations about alleged sexual misconduct by comedian Bill Cosby. But even as the 77-year-old former “Cosby Show” creator has gone to great lengths to ignore, refuse comment and deny the allegations, the stories keep piling up around him.
With a number of women coming forward recently claiming that they, too, were sexually abused or coerced into sex by Cosby over the past few decades, however, it’s become hard to ignore the gathering storm.
The lurid claims about the fatherly comedian — as well known for his kid-friendly Jell-O commercials and family oriented sitcoms as he is for his G-rated, relationship-focused stand-up routines — have cast Cosby in a very different light from his genial, Dr. Huxtable onscreen persona.
Still, it took another comedian to really bring the allegations against Cosby to light. Here’s what we know so far.
A Temple University accuser says Cosby turned from mentor to abuser, setting off a chain reaction of claims against the comedian in 2005.
Andrea Constand, the former director of operations of Temple University’s women’s basketball program, sues the comedian, claiming he slipped her “herbal medication” for stress when she visited his Philadelphia mansion in 2004. After taking the “medication,” she said Cosby touched her breasts and genitals and sexually assaulted her.
Constand had met Cosby several years earlier and considered him a mentor but when she contacted officials, the district attorney declined to press charges. At the time, Cosby’s lawyer calls the accusation “utterly preposterous.”
Before the allegations, the long-married funny man had already fessed up to an extramarital affair that may have produced a daughter.
The first rumblings of trouble in Cosby’s TV paradise begin back in 1997, when he admits that he’d had a sexual relationship with a woman named Shawn Upshaw, whose daughter, Autumn Jackson, she claimed was Cosby’s. The comedian’s paternity is never proven and Upshaw later serves two years in prison for trying to extort money from him.
But we might not be talking about it now at all if Hannibal Burress hadn’t put Bill on blast.
While the stories bubble under for years — always strenuously denied by Cosby — it takes a joke during comedian Hannibal Burress’ set in Philadelphia in October to re-ignite the smoldering story.
“It’s even worse because Bill Cosby has the f–king smuggest old black man public persona that I hate,” Burress, who is also black, tells a crowd. “‘ 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 don’t curse on stage.’ Well, yeah, you’re a rapist, so, I’ll take you sayin’ lots of motherf—ers on Bill Cosby: Himself if you weren’t a rapist.”
A few weeks later, Burress tells Sirius Radio host Howard Stern that the bit has been in his stand-up routine for a while, but that for whatever reason this gig seemed to spark the firestorm about the comedian’s past. This leads to a lot of questions about the past allegations.
Andrea Constand goes on the offensive with a lawsuit that brings 13 other alleged victims to light.
In 2006, Cosby is hit with a civil lawsuit by Constand in which 13 other women come forward with similar allegations of druggings and sexual assaults by Cosby. He later settles the Constand suit out of court for an undisclosed amount and none of the 13 witnesses ever testifies.
Adding to the curiosity of the allegations, this week someone digs up a 1969 Cosby routine about drugging women’s drinks with Spanish Fly.
Two more accusers emerge — both with very similar stories.
Among the women who come forward are California lawyer Tamara Green, who had appeared on the “Today Show” in 2005 alleging that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in the 1970s in a fashion similar to the one Constand alleges. Cosby’s lawyer denies that his client knew Green.
Also in 2005, Beth Ferrier claims she had a sexual relationship with Cosby — who has been married for 50 years to wife Camille — which she said ended after he allegedly drugged and groped her.
One woman stayed silent because she feared the influential comedian, who seemed as powerful as ‘the president.’
Another woman named in Constand’s lawsuit, Barbara Bowman, tells Philadelphia magazine that Cosby threw her on a bed and attempted to forcefully disrobe her as she yelled and begged him to stop. She later describes how she was afraid to come forward despite continued incidents because she feared nobody would believe her, describing Cosby as a powerful man, “like the president.”
Tamara Green and Barbara Bowman get together to share their story with the world.
Flash-forward to Burress’ comedic bit and an interview earlier this year in Newsweek, where Green and Bowman both talk about their alleged run-in with Cosby, prompting the star’s publicist to release a response to Green:
“This is a 10-year-old, discredited accusation that proved to be nothing at the time, and is still nothing.”
The damage-control meme that blew up in Cosby’s face.
Once again, Cosby’s team stays pretty quiet, but in an ill-conceived attempt to tamp down the story, Cosby launches an online meme generator on November 10 that turns into a flood of vitriolic slams against the comedian and the allegations. (The original solicitation tweet has since been taken down.)
I think Bill Cosby still thinks he’s America’s Dad and not America’s creepy Uncle who’s not allowed to visit anymore… #CosbyMeme
— Elon James White (@elonjames) November 10, 2014
Barbara Bowman goes all in, wondering why it took a male comedian’s joke to get the conversation about rape started.
Bowman writes a scathing op-ed in the Washington Post on November 13 titled “Bill Cosby raped me. Why did it take 30 years for people to believe my story?” She wonders in the piece why, “only after a man” called Cosby a rapist did the “public outcry begin in earnest.”
Cosby’s TV bookings start to disappear after an awkward interview and another accuser writes a damming essay.
After taking mostly softball questions from Stephen Colbert on “The Colbert Report” during a non-sequitur-filled appearance on September 24, Cosby is asked about the allegations in a November 15 interview on NPR’s “Weekend Edition.” He refuses to respond though and sits silently.
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Cosby subsequently cancels a planned November 19 appearance on “The Late Show With David Letterman.” (He had previously called off a spot on the “Queen Latifah Show” in October for undisclosed reasons.
Two more women, including a high-profile model, come forward.
Another accuser, Joan Tarshis, comes forward on November 16, claiming Cosby drugged and assaulted her twice in 1969. Two days later, former supermodel Janice Dickinson says Cosby drugged and raped her in 1982.
Planned TV projects are suddenly off the table and the future is unclear.
During a month where Cosby’s longevity was supposed to be celebrated with a new, praise-filled biography and an exhibition of his African-American art at the Smithsonian it is the cancellations of two TV programs that looms largest.
On Wednesday, the day after Netflix says it’s postponing the planned November 27 airing of a Cosby stand-up special commemorating the comedian’s 77th birthday, NBC announces a Cosby show in development that would have brought him back to prime time has been scrapped and TV Land quietly stops airing “Cosby Show” reruns.
In response to news of show cancellations, RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) releases a statement.
Also Wednesday, the group’s vice president of communications for Katherine Hull Fliflet, says the following: “We appreciate that NBC and Netflix have taken these allegations seriously. … The coverage of the Bill Cosby story has already led to a significant increase in the number of survivors reaching out for help through the National Sexual Assault Hotline.”
Cosby is still not talking.
During a year that was supposed to be a celebration of his 50th anniversary in show biz, aside from his odd stand-up gig, Cosby himself is keeping quiet. In a newly released Associated Press interview conducted on November 6, Cosby refused to answer questions about the allegations.
According to ABC News, Cosby said “I don’t talk about it,” and then reportedly asked the AP reporter that his on-camera refusal to comment about the allegations not be used either. “And I would appreciate it if it was scuttled,” Cosby said.
By Gil Kaufman
Source: MTV News
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