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.”