Bill Cosby controversy: A decade in the making

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

The sexual assault allegations that recently resurfaced against Bill Cosby first became public in 2005 when a former employee of his alma mater, Temple University, claimed he had drugged and abused her a year earlier at his suburban Philadelphia home. Here's how the controversy over the allegations, some dating to the 1960s, has unfolded since then:


Andrea Constand tells police in her native Ontario, Canada, on Jan. 13, 2005 that Cosby assaulted her a year earlier at his mansion in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania. She said he invited her home after a restaurant dinner, gave her pills for stress and tension, then helped her to a sofa when she became dizzy and sick. She recalled him touching her breast and placing her hand on his penis, and said she awoke with her clothing in disarray and bra undone. She said she drove herself home and decided not to report to police what happened due to Cosby's fame and her position as a Temple women's basketball administrator. Instead, she said she contacted a lawyer who deals with sexual assaults.

Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. decides after a monthlong investigation that there's not enough "credible and admissible evidence," a year after the alleged crime, to prove any charges. Castor adds that he won't divulge details to avoid tainting a possible civil action by Constand, and says "Much exists in this investigation that could be used to portray persons on both sides of the issue in a less than flattering light."

Cosby's lawyer says the comedian "looks forward to moving on with his life," and Cosby makes his only published comments to date about these allegations, telling the National Enquirer that "I am not going to give in to people who try to exploit me because of my celebrity status."

Constand then sues Cosby alleging battery, assault, infliction of emotional distress, defamation and invasion of privacy. She makes the same allegations cited in the summary of her complaint to Canadian police, but also alleges that he "digitally penetrated her." Her suit eventually names nine women — Tamara Green and eight Jane Does — as witnesses who would testify about prior sexual assaults.


Tamara Green appears on NBC's "Today" show on Feb. 10, 2005, saying that Constand's allegation about being drugged and assaulted compelled her to speak publicly about an encounter she said she had with Cosby in the 1970s. She says Cosby groped and fondled her at her Los Angeles apartment after immobilizing her with what he said was cold medicine. Cosby's lawyer calls the allegations "absolutely false," and says Cosby did not even recognize her name.


Beth Ferrier, identified as Jane Doe No. 5, goes public on June 23, 2005, alleging that as a model in New York in 1984, she met Cosby and they had a brief affair. She claims Cosby drugged her coffee during an encounter in Denver and she woke up hours later in the backseat of her car with her clothes disheveled.


Janice Dickinson, in a June 6, 2006 radio interview with Howard Stern, describes Cosby as a "bad guy" and says he "preys on women." She says her publishing company forced her to downplay passages in a 2002 memoir about an alleged encounter the model and comedian had 20 years earlier. The book says Cosby was upset when she declined to go to his hotel room, saying "After all I've done for you, that's what I get?"


Barbara Bowman is named in a June 9, 2006 Philadelphia magazine report as one of the Jane Does giving depositions or statements in support of Constand's lawsuit. Constand and Cosby settle their claims out of court for an undisclosed sum that November, but it doesn't stop People magazine from publishing a detailed account of Bowman's allegations a month later. Bowman tells People that Cosby won her trust as an 18-year-old aspiring actress in 1985 and drugged and assaulted her multiple times in Reno, Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey.


Eight years pass.


In January 2014, The New York Times publishes an open letter by Dylan Farrow accusing another celebrity — her stepfather, Woody Allen — of abusing her as a child. Newsweek magazine follows in February, reviving the allegations from the one-time "Jane Does," publishing interviews in February with Green and Bowman.

Comedian Hannibal Buress makes "you rape women, Bill Cosby" a laugh line in his standup routine. Cosby's planned return to television begins to implode.

Bowman then writes in The Washington Post that "Cosby had drugged and raped me, too." Her Nov. 13 essay questions why it took a male comedian's comments to create the public outcry.


Joan Tarshis comes forward on Nov. 16, alleging that Cosby drugged and assaulted her in 1969, when she was 19. She says Cosby forced her to perform oral sex on him during one encounter, and then drugged and raped her in another. Cosby's lawyer issues a blanket denial of "decade-old, discredited allegations," stating that "the fact that they are being repeated does not make them true." The next day, Cosby's lawyer clarifies that his statement does not apply to Constand.

Dickinson then reappears, telling "Entertainment Tonight" on Nov. 18 that Cosby sexually assaulted her in 1982. She says Cosby gave her red wine and a pill in a Lake Tahoe, California, hotel room. Dickinson says wrote about the alleged assault in a draft of her 2002 autobiography, "No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World's First Supermodel," but that Cosby and his lawyers pressured her and the publisher to remove the claim.

Netflix indefinitely postpones the Nov. 27 premiere of a Cosby comedy special, "Bill Cosby 77." NBC then scraps a Cosby comedy series under development, and TV Land stops airing reruns of "The Cosby Show."

Castor — the prosecutor who decided not to bring charges in 2005 — reveals that Cosby had been evasive during his investigation. "I think when he said that he didn't do anything improper or illegal, I thought then he was lying and I still do," he tells The Associated Press. But Castor says there was not enough evidence to prove anything.


Therese Serignese, named in documents as a "Jane Doe," comes forward as Cosby's 7th named accuser, alleging that he drugged and assaulted her in 1976 when she was 19. The same day, Nov. 20, the AP releases video from a Nov. 6 interview with Cosby and his wife, Camille, when they were being asked about their decision to loan paintings and other artworks to the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art in Washington D.C. When asked about the sex allegations resurfacing, Cosby refuses to discuss them. Later, with a microphone still attached and the camera rolling, he questions the news organization's integrity for raising the issue and says, "I would appreciate if it was scuttled."