Editor’s Note: This story has been updated and edited for clarity since it last published on May 3, 2015, to note the criminal charge filed in late December 2015 against Bill Cosby alleging sexual assault. The story includes a summary of accusations by some of at least 50 women who have accused Cosby of a variety of misdeeds from the 1960s to more recent years. Cosby has denied wrongdoing, but in a deposition, released in July 2015, Cosby said he did have extramarital relationships and gave prescription sedatives to women he wanted to have sex with. He says the sex and drug-taking were always consensual.
The news that prosecutors have charged Bill Cosby with sexual assault further dismantles his image as the jovial, pudding-loving patriarch whose family-friendly brand of comedy tickled successive generations.
Prosecutors in Pennsylvania have charged Cosby with aggravated indecent assault, a felony. The charges relate to an assault reported by former Temple University employee Andrea Constand, her attorney said. She has said Cosby drugged and fondled her, and digitally penetrated her, in his home, in 2004. In the deposition, Cosby described the encounter as consensual.
Constand was the first person to publicly allege sexual assault by Cosby – and the charge Cosby faces in her case represents the first criminal charge levied against him since the allegations arose.
Despite Cosby’s denials of wrongdoing, it’s clear many people have already tried him in their minds.
When an NPR reporter gave him a chance to deny the allegations in November 2014, Cosby provided an awkward moment of radio silence, refusing to answer the question. Given the same chance by The Associated Press, he offered no comment. When the interview concluded, he told a reporter that asking him about the allegations was a mark of low integrity and said he’d be appreciative if that portion of the interview was “scuttled.”
Cosby later told Florida Today he won’t respond to “innuendos,” referring to the women’s accusations.
“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,” Cosby told the newspaper in a backstage interview before a sellout performance at the King Center for the Performing Arts in Melbourne, Florida.
At least 50 women have accused Cosby. Here’s a look at some of their accusations.
The now-wife of Academy Award-winning film producer Alan Ladd Jr. was a single 21-year-old in 1969 when she met Cosby in New York, according to an account Cindra Ladd wrote for the Huffington Post. At the time, she said she was working in New York for the late film producer Ray Stark, who had just produced “Funny Girl.”
Cosby asked her for her phone number, which she gave, according to Ladd.
One evening, Cosby and Ladd agreed to see a movie and met at an apartment that Cosby said belonged to a friend, Ladd wrote. She had “a terrible headache,” and Cosby offered “a miracle cure” given by his doctor, she said.
“He went into another room and came back with a capsule. I asked a couple of times what it was. Each time he reassured me, asking, ‘Don’t you trust me?’ Of course I did. This was Bill Cosby,” Ladd wrote.
What happened that evening “remains a blur,” even 45 years later, wrote Ladd, who became an entertainment executive.
What she does remember, she claimed, is “waking up the next morning nude in the bed of his friend’s apartment and seeing Cosby wearing a white terrycloth bathrobe and acting as if there was nothing unusual,” Ladd alleged. “It was obvious to me that he had had sex with me. I was horrified, embarrassed and ashamed. There was a mirror above the bed, which shocked me further.”
Nine years ago, she told her husband of nearly 30 years of the incident after a woman sued Cosby with similar allegations, Ladd said. Her husband couldn’t be reached for an interview, and his attorney declined to comment on the wife’s claim of disclosure.
Ladd said she chose to disclose her account publicly in January after more than 20 women came forward with accusations.
“I have no plans to sue, I don’t want or need money. I have no plans for a press conference or for doing any interviews,” Ladd wrote. “So why speak out at all and why now? The simple answer is that it’s the right thing to do. The truth deserves to be known.”
Cosby’s representatives declined to respond to CNN’s repeated requests for comment.
The now-wife of “The Incredible Hulk” star Lou Ferrigno told CNN that Cosby forcibly kissed her at his home in 1967.
Carla Ferrigno said she told her husband, whom she married in 1980, about the incident about five years ago and he advised her to stay silent.
“I am going public (now) because I am just one more person who puts the nail in his coffin,” she said.
A Cosby lawyer called the media coverage of the allegation “utter nonsense.”
“This continuing pattern of attacks on Mr. Cosby has entered the realm of the ridiculous, with a purported ‘forceful kiss’ at a party in 1967, nearly 50 years ago, being treated as a current ‘news story’ and grossly mischaracterized as a ‘sexual assault,’” Cosby attorney Martin Singer said in a statement.
Carla Ferrigno was an 18-year-old Playboy bunny when she went with a male friend to Cosby’s house. The comedian and his wife went to a movie with Ferrigno and her date, then returned to Cosby’s home in Beverly Hills.
She told CNN that Cosby’s wife disappeared while the other three played pool.
After her date left the room, Cosby grabbed her, pulled her to him and kissed her, she said.
“It was so unexpected and so rough. He kissed me right in the mouth.”
Ruehli alleges the comedian gave her cocktails, which she believes contained drugs, during a 1965 visit to his home.
At the time, Ruehli was a secretary for a talent agency that had Cosby as a client. She said she was invited to the home to celebrate a taping of “Hollywood Palace.” Ruehli said she and an unnamed actress were the only attendees at the party.
She said she became unconscious after consuming drinks, and later woke up to find Cosby attempting to force her mouth onto his pubic area. She said she pulled away to vomit and drove herself home. It was the last time she would see Cosby, she told CNN.
Brown was a 21-year-old model when she met Cosby in 1969, the same year she made television history when she became the first model in North America to wear only a bra from the waist up on the screen. It was a Wonderbra ad, and before then, TV ads used mannequins, she said.
Modeling since age 19, Brown was born in Canada and was living there when Cosby was doing a performance near her hometown, whose name she didn’t disclose. She said her agent introduced them, and Brown and Cosby had dinner after his show. Brown’s agent is now deceased, Brown’s attorney, Gloria Allred, said.
They dined at a restaurant, and Cosby took her to a friend’s apartment, where he served her a soft drink.
“I took a sip and blacked out,” Brown said at a press conference with her attorney in February. “When I awakened, I was naked in the bed beside him.
“I couldn’t move or speak. I felt paralyzed. He flipped me over and sexually assaulted me. I felt like a rag doll and like a real-life blow-up doll for him. I was in a stupor. Later, after he finished and when I was finally able to get up and got dressed, I got out of there as soon as I could. I felt dirty, ashamed and embarrassed,” she said, tearfully.
“He is a Jekyll and Hyde personality and if you trust him, then you have been fooled by him, too,” she said.
Cosby’s attorney didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Tarshis was a 19-year-old actress in 1969 when, she said, she met Cosby in Los Angeles. The two became friendly. One night after taping his sitcom, he invited her back to his bungalow and fixed her a “redeye” (a Bloody Mary topped with beer), she alleged.
“The next thing I remember was coming to on his couch while being undressed,” she told Hollywood Elsewhere. “I was sickened by what was happening to me and shocked that this man I had idolized was now raping me. Of course I told no one.”
It was the first of two similar incidents, said Tarshis, who is now a journalist and publicist.
Linda Joy Traitz
Linda Joy Traitz has a criminal record in Florida and spent time in prison on a conviction for drug trafficking, according to state records.
Cosby lawyer Singer passed on her lengthy rap sheet as an indication of her character.
Traitz spoke openly about her record to CNN, including her last arrest in 2008, which led to more than three years in prison for drug trafficking and possession.
“When I got sent to prison … it saved my life,” she said. “It was a great experience for me.” It ended her addiction to pain pills, and she’s been clean ever since, she said.
Numerous arrests speckle Traitz’s rap sheet, including on suspicion of theft, battery and types of deception – fraud and impersonation – often in connection with drug possession.
She said Cosby pushed himself on her when she worked as a waitress at a restaurant in Los Angeles that Cosby co-owned when she met him in 1969.
Billboard Magazine mentioned Cosby co-owned a restaurant in a 1970 article.
Traitz was either 18 or 19 at the time, she said; she did not recall exactly. But she was fresh out of high school and new to the city, she said.
Cosby offered her a ride home, but on the way told her he’d like to swing by the beach with her in his Rolls Royce, she said. They parked, and he offered her drugs, an array of brightly colored pills, “to relax,” she alleged.
She said no, a few times. “He kept offering me the pills,” she alleged, and it made her feel uncomfortable. She claimed that he then groped her chest, pushing her down in the seat and toward the door, and tried to lie on top of her.
She got out of the car and ran, she said. She added that she was “absolutely not” raped. He tried to calm her, she said, then drove her home in silence.
Cosby’s attorney said her account was not true.
“Ms. Traitz is the latest example of people coming out of the woodwork with fabricated or unsubstantiated stories about my client,” Singer said in a statement.
Playboy bunny Victoria Valentino said her friend Francesca Emerson first introduced her to Cosby hoping to help her get work on his show “I Spy” in the late ‘60s.
Valentino said after an interview in his trailer, Cosby invited her and a different friend to dinner.
They drank red wine at dinner, where she said Cosby offered her pills to “cheer up.”
She remembers feeling “stoned,” slurring her words.
She went with him to a place where he had memorabilia, she said. She described it as a space in an apartment building that was like an office, with two loveseats and no working phone. It was a “ballers pad,” she said.
At some point during the evening, she said, she was feeling “totally out of it” when she saw Cosby attempting to advance on her passed-out friend. She said she began reaching out to Cosby to pull him off her friend when Cosby pushed her down, first pushing himself near her mouth, before turning her around and raping her.
On why she never spoke then about the incident, Valentino told CNN, “As a playmate I thought, who would believe me?”
“I couldn’t bring myself to jump into the fire.”
Emerson told CNN that Valentino told her about the alleged incident with Cosby shortly after it happened.
She said Valentino at the time was in a position to be taken advantage of because she was vulnerable and had just lost her son. Valentino told CNN that at the time she was deeply grieving the loss of her 7-year-old son, who had drowned in a pool at her music manager’s house.
Emerson, now 73, said Cosby was never inappropriate with her; in fact, he once gave her $1,000 after she told him she was signing up for food stamps.
Valentino said her daughters knew about this incident. She wrote a story about it and thought about publishing it, but then held back.
“I can’t hear his name … something inside me shrinks and sinks when I think of him,” she said.