Rape allegations have been following Bill Cosby for decades, but public chatter reached a fever pitch after fellow comedian Hannibal Burros called Cosby a rapist while performing in Philadelphia on Oct. 16. After his incendiary set went viral, several more women came forward to chronicle their alleged experiences with Cosby.
From the women’s claims, to Cosby’s long-awaited response, here’s everything we know so far:
Nov. 13, 2014
Former model and actress Barbara Bowman claimed in a shocking Washington Post op-ed that the ’80s sitcom star, 77, assaulted her in 1985 at the age of 17. “Bill Cosby raped me. Why did it take 30 years for people to believe my story?” she wrote. The mother of two, who now resides in Scottsdale, Ariz., said that Cosby brainwashed her into “viewing him as a father figure, and then assaulted me multiple times.”
Nov. 15 2014
Following Bowman’s article, Cosby’s upcoming appearance on Late Show with David Letterman was cancelled. (On Oct. 31, his taping on The Queen Latifah Show was also reportedly canned.) That same day, the actor shook his head in silence when asked about the allegations during an NPR interview with his wife of 50 years Camille.
Nov. 16, 2014
His lawyer, John P. Schmitt, released a statement on Cosby’s website. “Over the last several weeks, decade-old, discredited allegations against Mr. Cosby have resurfaced. The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true. Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment,” he wrote. “He would like to thank all his fans for the outpouring of support and assure them that, at age 77, he is doing his best work. There will be no further statement from Mr. Cosby or any of his representatives.”
Nov. 17, 2014
After hearing Bowman’s story, Joan Tarshis alleged that Cosby raped her twice in 1969 during a sit-down interview with CNN’s Don Lemon. “We went up to his bungalow and he made me a drink. Shortly after that I passed out. I woke up or came to very groggily with him removing my underwear,” the former actress and publicist said. Tarshis added that she tried to stop him by lying about an infection.
As for why she didn’t contact police sooner? “Who’s going to believe me? Bill Cosby, the all-American dad, the all-American husband. Mr. Jell-O that everybody loves. Who would believe me? They’d probably think I was out to get something,” she said. Lemon was later slammed for how he handled the interview, suggesting that Tarshis could have bit Cosby during oral sex to fight back.
Nov. 18, 2014
70s supermodel and former America’s Next Top Model judge Janice Dickinson claimed in graphic detail that the actor-comedian raped her in 1982 during an extensive interview with Entertainment Tonight. She said she tried to write about the incident in her 2002 autobiography No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World’s First Supermodel, but Cosby’s lawyers pressured her not to. Dickinson first raised eyebrows when she called Cosby a “bad guy” in a 2006 interview with Howard Stern.
Nov. 19, 2014
Accusations began to effect Cosby’s professional life after Dickinson came forward. NBC dropped his upcoming project, Netflix postponed his comedy special, and TV Land pulled reruns of his once beloved The Cosby Show off the air.
Amid the downfall, Cosby’s former Cosby Show costar Raven-Symone reacted to the “disgusting” rumor that she was sexually assaulted by the star while on set. “I was NOT [taken] advantage of by Mr. Cosby when I was on the Cosby Show!” she wrote via Instagram. “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!” The former Disney star began working on the family sitcom when she was 3.
The Associated Press went on to release previously unaired footage of Cosby responding to the claims. “I don’t talk about it,” he said.
Nov. 20, 2014
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest actress Louisa Moritz told TMZ that she was sexually assaulted by Cosby during an appearance on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show in 1971. “He suddenly approached me and took out his penis, which was now in the line of my face and pressed up against it,” she claimed. After forcing oral sex, Cosby allegedly said: “Now you don’t want to upset me and the plans for your future, do you?”
That same day, Lou Ferrigno’s wife Carla Ferrigno told the Daily Mail that she met Cosby after going on a movie date with his male friend in 1967. The trio and another woman played in a pool, but the fun evening allegedly took a dark turn when Cosby aggressively came onto her when they were alone. “He was much bigger than me. Much bigger and he pulled me so hard and so rough. I had never been treated so roughly and he pulled me hard to him so hard,” the former Playboy Bunny claimed. “And then kissed me so hard, right in the mouth. No one has ever been that physically violent with me.”
In addition to Maritz and Ferrigno, a woman named Renita Chaney Hill told Philadelphia’s KDKA that Cosby promised her “bright lights and fame” when she met him in the ’80s. The relationship went south, however, when she allegedly lost consciousness while with him one night. “I remember the taste of his cigar on his breath, and I didn’t like it,” Hill said, noting that he kissed and touched her. “I remember another time when I woke up in my bed the next day and he was leaving, he mentioned you should probably lose a little weight. I thought that odd, how would he know that?”
Taking the social media route, SVU actress Michelle Hurd added her own claim. “I wasn’t going to say anything, but I can’t believe some of the things [I]’ve been reading, SO here is MY personal experience,” she reportedly wrote on her Facebook page. She went on to allege that when she was a Cosby Show stand-in Cosby made her do “weird acting exercises” and ran his hands over her body. “[I] can’t believe I fell for that. I was instructed to NEVER tell anyone,” she added.
Father of five, Cosby remained mum up until this point, but received support from his Cosby Show producers Tom Werner and Marcy Carey. “The Bill we know was a brilliant and wonderful collaborator on a show that changed the landscape of television,” the two said in a joint statement, via Variety. “These recent news reports are beyond our knowledge or comprehension.”
Nov. 21, 2014
Cosby received a standing ovation while performing at the King Center in Melbourne, Fla. (One night earlier, he got the same reception during his set at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas.) For the first time, he briefly opened up about the allegations to Florida Today.
“I know people are tired of me not saying anything, but a guy doesn’t have to answer to innuendos,” he said backstage. “People should fact check. People shouldn’t have to go through that and shouldn’t answer to innuendos.”
Before his set, Cosby’s lawyer Martin Singer also issued a statement. “The new, never-before-heard claims from women who have come forward in the past two weeks with unsubstantiated, fantastical stories about things they say occurred 30, 40, or even 50 years ago have escalated far past the point of absurdity,” he said, via AP. “These brand new claims about alleged decades-old events are becoming increasingly ridiculous, and it is completely illogical that so many people would have said nothing, done nothing, and made no reports to law enforcement or asserted civil claims if they thought they had been assaulted over a span of so many years.”
The claims continued, however. Former secretary Kristina Ruehli claimed to Phillymag.com that she met Cosby at her former talent agency company in 1965. He invited her to a party but when she showed up no one else was there. She alleged that Cosby’s wife was out of town and she passed out after having Bourbon, later being forced to have oral sex. “I found myself on the bed, and he had his shirt off. He had unzipped his pants,” she told the site.
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