Vulture

Skip to content, or skip to search.

primer

A Timeline of the Abuse Charges Against Bill Cosby [Updated]

Thirty years ago this fall, The Cosby Show debuted on NBC, and its star was catapulted into the comedic stratosphere. The timing is prime, then, for the release of a sprawling biography. Written by former Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker, Cosby: His Life and Times documents the man’s rise from the Philadelphia projects, while also detailing the creation of his family sitcom and the murder of his son Ennis in 1997.

The book is notable, however, for its complete avoidance of sexual abuse allegations that have dogged Cosby for more than a decade. In a statement to Buzzfeed's Kate Aurthur, Whitaker says, "I didn’t want to print allegations that I couldn’t confirm independently." Regardless, their absence is glaring. Consider the following timeline an appendix to the book.

November 2002
Andrea Constand, director of operations for Temple University’s women’s basketball team, allegedly met with Bill Cosby. Constand claims that Cosby, who had been a member of Temple’s track and field and football teams, assumed a role as her mentor.

January 2004
According to Constand, she visited Cosby at his Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, home to discuss career advice, and after allegedly (according to a civil lawsuit she would later file) giving her "herbal" pills to ease her anxiety, Cosby “touched her breasts and vaginal area, rubbed his penis against her hand, and digitally penetrated” her.

January 13, 2005
Constand, who had since moved near Toronto to study massage therapy, accuses Cosby of "inappropriate touching" — groping her breasts and placing her hand on his genitals — to Canadian authorities. Cosby’s lawyer calls her allegation "utterly preposterous" and "plainly bizarre.”

January 27, 2005
ABC News reports that the interaction between Constand and Cosby — who is at this point cooperating with the investigation — might have been consensual.

February 10, 2005
Tamara Green, a California lawyer, appears on the Today show and alleges that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in the 1970s. Green tells Matt Lauer that Cosby, who had given her pills to combat a fever, drove her to her apartment and began “… groping me and kissing me and touching me and handling me and … taking off my clothes.” According to Green, Cosby left two $100 bills on her coffee table afterwards. Cosby’s lawyer issues a statement: “Miss Green’s allegations are absolutely false. Mr. Cosby does not know the name Tamara Green or Tamara Lucier [her maiden name], and the incident she describes did not happen. The fact that she may have repeated this story to others is not corroboration.”

February 17, 2005
Citing a lack of evidence, the investigating district attorney in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, announces he will not act on Constand’s accusation and bring criminal charges against Cosby.

March 8, 2005
Constand files a civil complaint against Cosby. The five-count lawsuit charges Cosby with battery and assault, and asks for at least $150,000 in damages. Thirteen women who allege similar experiences as Constand and Green are mentioned in court papers as Jane Doe witnesses.

May 2005
In Constand’s civil lawsuit, she alleges the comedian gave her three blue pills, which he said was herbal medication. Cosby’s lawyers, however, issue a court filing and attempt to clarify that the comedian merely gave Constand one and a half tablets of Benadryl.

June 2005
Jane Doe 5 goes public. Beth Ferrier claims she was in a relationship with Cosby in the mid-1980s, one that ended when he allegedly drugged her coffee and Ferrier woke in a car. “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? I was so out of it. It was just awful."

February 2006
While in the midst of her civil suit, Constand sues one of Cosby’s lawyers — and the National Enquirer — for defamation. Cosby had spoken to the tabloid the year before, and Constand claimed the interview defamed her as it “[intended] to or knowing it would injure” her.

June 2006*
Philadelphia magazine interviews another witness in Constand’s lawsuit, Barbara Bowman. “Cosby threw me on the bed and braced his forearm against my neck and attempted to disrobe me and himself,” she said in another Philadelphia interview later that year. “I can still remember him messing with his belt. And I was screaming and crying and yelling and begging him to stop.”

November 2006
Cosby settles with Constand. Terms are not disclosed, and none of the 13 other women testify.

December 2006
The following month, People magazine publishes Bowman's account of several assaults: "It was in a hotel in Reno, claims Bowman, that Cosby assaulted her one night in 1986. 'He took my hand and his hand over it, and he masturbated with his hand over my hand,' says Bowman, who, although terrified, kept quiet about the incident and continued as Cosby's protégé because, she says, 'Who's gonna believe this? He was a powerful man. He was like the president.' Before long she was alone with Cosby again in his Manhattan townhouse; she was given a glass of red wine, and "the next thing I know, I'm sick and I'm nauseous and I'm delusional and I'm limp and ... I can't think straight.... And I just came to, and I'm wearing a [men's] T-shirt that wasn't mine, and he was in a white robe.'"

That same People article reports that three of the Jane Does from the March 2005 case accepted cash from Cosby for years, and two others began consensual sexual relationships with Cosby.

February 2014
Katie Baker of Newsweek — Whitaker’s former employer — interviews both Green and Bowman about the alleged assaults. Bowman tells Baker she was disappointed in the settlement, and Green recounts running into and accosting Cosby in Las Vegas, yelling, “Rapist! Liar! Asshole!” While Cosby doesn’t issue a statement regarding Bowman’s claims, his publicist responds to Green, “This is a 10-year-old, discredited accusation that proved to be nothing at the time, and is still nothing.”

October 16, 2014
Comedian Hannibal Buress does an extended bit about the rape charges in Cosby's home town of Philadelphia. "Bill Cosby has the fucking 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." A clip of the set goes viral after being posted in Philadelphia magazine.

November 10,2014
To battle the bad press, Cosby's PR team launches an online meme generator. Twitter is immediately inundated with references to the rape claims

November 13, 2014
Inspired by the reactions to Buress's bit, Bowman pens an op-ed in the Washington Post, titled "Bill Cosby raped me. Why did it take 30 years for people to believe my story?" She notes that "only after a man ... called Bill Cosby a rapist in a comedy act last month did the public outcry begin in earnest." 

November 15, 2014
Cosby is asked about the various charges on NPR's "Weekend Edition"
but stays silent. His lawyer later posts a statement saying Cosby "won't dignify these allegations with any response."

November 16, 2014
A new accuser, Joan Tarshis, alleges that Cosby drugged and assaulted her on two occasions in 1969. "As more and more of his rape victims have come forward, all telling similar stories," Tarshis says, "the time is right to join them." 

November 17, 2014
Linda Joy Traitz, a former waitress at Cosby's Café Figaro, writes a lengthy Facebook post accusing the actor of trying to drug her in the early '70s. She says the incident occurred when Cosby drove her home one night: "He drove out to the beach and opened a briefcase filled with assorted drugs and kept offering me pills 'to relax,' which I declined. He began to get sexually aggressive and wouldn’t take ‘No’ for an answer. I freaked out and demanded to be taken home."

November 18, 2014
On Entertainment Tonight, supermodel Janice Dickinson becomes the next woman to accuse Cosby of sexual abuse, saying the comedian drugged and raped her in 1982. She recalls Cosby giving her wine and a pill, which he told her were for menstrual cramps: "Before I woke up in the morning, the last thing I remember was Bill Cosby in a patchwork robe, dropping his robe and getting on top of me. And I remember a lot of pain. The next morning I remember waking up with my pajamas off and there was semen in between my legs." Dickinson alluded to the event in her 2002 memoir, and later told Howard Stern she was asked to change the text to show Cosby in a better light.

Netflix indefinitely shelves the Bill Cosby stand-up special that was set to air Thanksgiving week.

November 19, 2014
Nearly all remnants of Cosby vanish from the airwaves as TV Land pulls all Cosby Show reruns from its schedule and NBC scraps the sitcom it was developing with him. 

The Associated Press releases video of a November 6 interview in which Cosby tells an AP interviewer to "scuttle" footage of him refusing to comment on the charges. "If you want to consider yourself to be serious," he says, "it will not appear anywhere." Cosby later says he "thought AP had the integrity to not ask."

November 20, 2014
A hoax website publishes a story saying Raven-Symoné was abused by Cosby as a child. Symoné disputes the rumor on Instagram: "I was NOT taking [sic] advantage of by Mr. Cosby when I was on the Cosby Show! I was practically a baby on that show and this is truly a disgusting rumor that I want no part of! Everyone on that show treated me with nothing but kindness. Now keep me out of this!"

Three additional women accuse Cosby of sexual assault: Carla Ferrigno, wife and manager of Incredible Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno, says Cosby "attacked" her when she was a teenager, grabbing and kissing her at a 1967 party; Love, American Style actress Louisa Moritz tells TMZ that Cosby forced her to perform oral sex on him in a Tonight Show green-room in 1971; and nurse Theresa Serignese claims Cosby drugged and raped her in 1976. Serignese was one of 13 Jane Does in the 2005 court case, while Ferrigno and Moritz provide new allegations.

In another statement, Cosby's lawyer condemns the "media-driven feeding frenzy" and calls the latest round of allegations "utter nonsense." As he writes, "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." 

November 21, 2014
Three more accusers step forward. All tell similar stories: Kristina Ruehli says Cosby spiked her bourbon and forced her to perform oral sex in 1965; Picture Pages actress Renita Chaney Hill alleges Cosby drugged and assaulted her multiple times when she was a teenager; and model Angela Leslie contends that Cosby invited her to his Las Vegas hotel room in 1992, got naked, then forced her to masturbate him.

Multiple theaters cancel upcoming appearances by Cosby, including the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and the Virginia Theater in Illinois.

November 22, 2014
The Washington Post publishes the results of a long investigation into the allegations, including an interview with a new accuser: former Playmate Victoria Valentino, who says Cosby drugged and assaulted her and a friend in 1970. "He came over to me and sat down on the love seat and opened his fly and grabbed my head and pushed my head down," Valentino tells the Post. "And then he turned me over. It was like a waking nightmare."

November 23, 2014
Former Cosby Show employee Frank Scotti says he was in charge of delivering payoffs to eight different women. In his words, "It was a coverup." Scotti also claims that he stood guard outside Cosby's dressing room while the comedian conducted "interviews" with young models, all supplied by an agency he had an "arrangement" with.

November 24, 2014
Model Jewel Allison accuses Cosby of drugging and assaulting her in the late '80s. She recalls accepting a dinner invitation to Cosby's home, where he poured her a glass of wine. Allison says now she thinks the wine was drugged. "I looked at myself in the mirror and I didn't look good," she tells the New York Daily News. "My eyes were all over the place." She remembers Cosby placing her hand on his penis, kissing her, then calling a cab. "There's no such thing as Cliff Huxtable," she says. "There's just a man named Bill Cosby. He's a very sick sociopath."

Mark Whitaker, author of the recent Cosby biography, apologizes on Twitter for not including the sexual assault allegations in his book.

December 1, 2014
Cosby resigns from his position on Temple's board of trustees.

December 2, 2014
Judy Huth accuses Cosby of assaulting her when she was 15. Huth claims that she and a friend met Cosby when they wandered onto a movie set in 1974. A week later, she says, the comedian took them to a party at the Playboy Mansion. There, Huth claims Cosby told her to lie about her age; then, when the two were alone, Cosby stuck his hand down her pants and forced her to masturbate him. Huth is the first accuser in nearly a decade to get the legal system involved: She's suing Cosby for damages based on the "psychological damage and mental anguish" she says she received. Huth cannot file criminal charges against the star, as the alleged incident took place before 1988.

On Twitter, Cosby thanks celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg and Jill Scott for standing by him.

December 3, 2014
At a press conference called by Gloria Allred, Beth Ferrier joins two new accusers: Helen Hayes says Cosby stalked her "like a predator" in 1973 before coming up behind her and grabbing her breast; a woman known only as "Chelan" claims Cosby drugged and assaulted her in a hotel room in 1986. Allred calls for Cosby to either waive the statute of limitations for the allegations against him, or else donate $100 million to fund settlements for the accusers.

December 4, 2014
Cosby files his own lawsuit against Huth, saying she used the threat of a sexual-assault claim to try to extort him. The lawsuit calls Huth's accusations "meritless and unsupported," and claims she went public only "after Mr. Cosby rejected plaintiff’s outrageous demand for money." Cosby and his lawyer also say Huth broke the law by naming him in her lawsuit. They are seeking $33,000 in damages.

Meanwhile, a New York theater cancels two upcoming Cosby performances and the Navy strips Cosby of his honorary chief petty officer designation. In Los Angeles, an unknown vandal scrawls "rapist" on Cosby's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

December 11, 2014
Model Beverly Johnson accuses Cosby of drugging her in the mid-'80s. Johnson tells Vanity Fair the comedian insisted she try a cappuccino from his home espresso machine; after two sips, she knew it was drugged. Before passing out, she remembers calling Cosby "a motherfucker," which annoyed him so much he dragged her out of his house and hailed her a cab.

December 13, 2014
In his most direct response to the accusations yet, Cosby tells "Page Six" he expects "the black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism [and] go in with a neutral mind.”

December 15, 2014
Model Chloe Goins accuses Cosby of drugging and assaulting her in 2008, the most recent alleged abuse yet. Goins claims she was attending a party at the Playboy Mansion when Cosby handed her a drink that made her black out. When she came to, she says, she found Cosby licking her toes and touching himself.

Spelman College drops its endowed professor position named after Cosby. The comedian and his wife had previously donated $20 million to the historically black college.

Camille Cosby herself speaks out for the first time. "The man I met, and fell in love with, and whom I continue to love, is the man you all knew through his work," she says in a statement. "A different man has been portrayed in the media over the last two months. It is the portrait of a man I do not know." Cosby also writes that she wishes the media would spend more time vetting her husband's accusers, comparing his case to the Rolling Stone UVA rape scandal.

December 16, 2014
Cosby's daughter Evin releases her own statement, which mirrors her mother's: "He is the father you thought you knew," she writes, adding that to her family, The Cosby Show was like a "reality show."

December 17, 2014
The L.A. County district attorney declines to charge Cosby in Judy Huth's case, as the statute of limitations has passed. Huth's civil suit against Cosby is unaffected.

December 19, 2014
A new accuser known only as "Lisa" accuses Cosby of drugging her in 1988. Lisa tells Dr. Phil that Cosby had invited her up to his hotel room for a "mentoring session." While there, she says, he gave her a drugged drink, then started stroking her hair; she woke up two days later with no memory of what had happened to her.

In a separate statement to USA Today, Cosby's lawyer disputes the coverage of Cosby's "black media" quote, saying that "Mr. Cosby did not ask for special treatment from the African-American media. To the contrary, he asked that they adhere to journalistic standards and approach the story in a neutral manner."

December 22, 2014
Actress Kathy McKee accuses Cosby of raping her in the early 1970s. McKee says that at the time of the alleged assault, she had known Cosby eight years, and she tells the Daily News she considered him a "buddy." McKee says she stopped by the comedian's hotel room one night to bring him some ribs before a party, only to find that he was "like a different person," immediately ripping her clothes off and raping her. McKee says she never spoke out about the incident, not even to her boyfriend, Sammy Davis Jr.: "I just figured, If I don't think about it, it won't bother me."

January 4, 2015
In an episode of Celebrity Apprentice, former Cosby Show actress Keshia Knight Pulliam is "fired" for refusing to asking Cosby for money as part of a business challenge. The episode was shot months before the sexual-assault story returned to the news, and airs without any reference to the scandal. After her dismissal, Pulliam defends her TV father: "Unfortunately, in the court of public opinion everyone has formed their opinion, but we're still in America and you're innocent until proven guilty of any crimes."

January 6, 2015
Cosby Show star Phylicia Rashad joins the ranks of Cosby defenders, saying the accusations are part of a coordinated attack on the comedian. "Forget these women," she tells reporter Roger Friedman. "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 [about] the legacy."

January 7, 2015
Gloria Allred calls another press conference, with three new Cosby accusers: Linda Kirkpatrick says she accepted a drink from Cosby at a party in the 1980s, only to wake up with the comedian on top of her; Lynn Neal says that Cosby "built [her] trust by pretending to be a friend," then drugged and raped her; and a woman known only as "Kacey" claims that Cosby drugged and assaulted her in 1996, when she was working as an assistant for his agent.

After Allred criticizes her at the press conference, Phylicia Rashad says her "Forget these women" remark was misquoted. "I am a woman," she tells ABC World News Tonight. "I would never say that." In the interview, Rashad also reiterates her theory that the accusations are part of a deliberate campaign of character assassination against Cosby.

January 11, 2015
At the Golden Globes, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler do a Cosby bit during their monologue. Reaction in the room, and online, is mixed.

January 14, 2015
The LAPD announces that it will investigate Chloe Goins's claim that Cosby assaulted her in 2008. Her accusation is the first to fall within California's statute of limitations.

So far, 24 women have publicly accused Cosby of assaulting them.

This post has been updated throughout.

* This article initially stated that Barbara Bowman's interview was in a November 2006 Philadelphia magazine interview. The piece was published in June 2006.

Photo: Splash News/Corbis