As the Bill Cosby sexual assault trial comes to a close in Pennsylvania after just one week, ABC News looks back at the extraordinary sequence of events that led to the public downfall and criminal prosecution of a man who was once one of America’s most beloved comedians.
Mid-Jan.–Mid-Feb. 2004 Bill Cosby allegedly sexually assaults Andrea Constand at his home in Cheltenham Township in Montgomery, Penn.
March 31, 2004 Constand leaves her position as Director of Operations for Temple University’s women’s basketball team and returns to Canada.
May 17, 2004 Cosby’s fiery speech about black America at an NAACP awards ceremony leads to a speaking tour dubbed “A Call Out With Bill Cosby” at college campuses and churches nationwide.
Jan. 13, 2005 Constand first tells her mother that Cosby had assaulted her after experiencing nightmares and a “flashback” that triggered her memory, according to court documents.
Jan. 22, 2005 Constand files a police report with Durham Regional Police outside Toronto, Canada -- sparking a criminal investigation by Montgomery County detectives in Cheltenham.
Jan. 2005 At his attorney’s midtown Manhattan law office, Cosby is interviewed by Cheltenham Police Chief John Norris, who later told Vanity Fair that Cosby was “cooperative, congenial.” “He came in wearing the typical Cosby sweater," he said. "I was asking the question, and I thought [Cosby] was a gentleman. I didn’t think he was evasive. He answered every question I put to him. He said it was a consensual sexual encounter. That summarizes it.”
Feb. 10, 2005 Tamara Green says in a television interview that Constand’s decision to file a police report against Cosby that sparked a very public criminal investigation prompted her to come forward with a similar allegation from the 1970s.
Feb. 17, 2005 Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor Jr. issues a press release announcing his decision not to criminally prosecute Cosby.
March, 2005 Constand files a civil lawsuit against Cosby, and includes depositions from 13 women who say they, too, were sexually assaulted by Cosby over the years, as potential witnesses. Cosby later said in a deposition that his sexual encounter with Constand was consensual, and that the only drug he gave her was Benedryl. Cosby has denied ever sexually coercing anyone, but said some of the accusations were consensual encounters. His attorneys have charged that some of the women can't remember the year the year of the alleged incidents, and in other cases can't specifically recall being assaulted - only that they woke up feeling drugged. Prosecutors wanted to use these women's testimony in the criminal trial, but the judge ruled that just one could testify. Until she took the stand as Kelly Johnson, she had been known only as "Kacey."
June 23, 2005 Beth Ferrier, Jane Doe #5, has alleged publicly that during the course of what she has described as a brief affair with the entertainer in 1984 when she was modelling, Cosby drugged her coffee and sexually assaulted her. Ferrier also attempted to tell this story to the National Enquirer, which was ready to go to print with it when Cosby offered the Enquirer an exclusive interview in return for spiking Ferrier’s story, which the tabloid did, according to testimony Cosby gave in 2005. It never went to print. Through his representatives, Cosby has denied all allegations of wrongdoing.
Fall 2005 - 2006: During four days of depositions by Constand’s attorneys, Cosby testified that he got drugs to give women for sex, how he gave the National Enquirer an exclusive interview in 2005 to stop a story about another, previously undisclosed sexual assault allegation from surfacing, and how he hid the affairs from his wife and routed payments to multiple women. In July, 2015, the AP got the court to release excerpts of the depositions. That same month, the New York Times obtained the full transcripts from the court reporter, and published excerpts.
June 6, 2006 In a radio interview with Howard Stern, model Janice Dickenson calls Cosby “a bad guy” who “preys on women.”
June 9, 2006 Barbara Bowman is named in Philadelphia magazine as one of the women giving testimony in support of Constand’s civil lawsuit against Cosby.
Nov. 8, 2006 Constand’s civil lawsuit against Cosby is settled for an undisclosed amount of money.
EIGHT YEARS PASS
Oct. 16, 2014 Comedian Hannibal Buress made the joke heard around the world. Performing in Cosby's home town of Philadelphia, he mocked Cosby's public persona. "Pull your pants up black people, I was on TV in the '80s," he said in the bit. "Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches."
Nov. 10, 2014 With nearly a month passed since the Buress routine went viral, prompting fresh accusations, Cosby's PR team began a concerted effort to counter the mountain of negative press and societal media censure pin-balling through cyberspace at the speed of sound and launches an online meme generator. In an effort to creatively engage fans online, Cosby posted an invitation on Twitter: "Meme me." Twitter responds with references to the rape claims. Soon, social media had done more damage that good. Later they would first shun, and later embrace the media, and launch counter-suits for defamation against his accusers.
Nov. 13, 2014 Bowman, who first publicly accused Cosby of sexual assault in 2006 and was a witness in Constand's lawsuit, 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," Bowman wrote that it was only after a male comedian called Cosby a rapist that the "public outcry begin in earnest." Two days later, when asked about the charges on NPR's "Weekend Edition," Cosby stays silent. But his lawyer, John P. Schmitt, later posted a notice to the comedian's website, saying Cosby would not be addressing "decade-old, discredited allegations."
"The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true," Schmitt said in the statement. "There will be no further statement from Mr. Cosby or any of his representatives."
Nov. 16, 2014 A new accuser, Joan Tarshis, tells CNN that Cosby drugged and assaulted her on two occasions in 1969.
Nov. 17, 2014 Linda Joy Traitz, a former waitress at a restaurant owned in part by Cosby, writes a lengthy Facebook post, accusing the star of trying to drug her in the early '70s.
Nov. 18, 2014 Janice Dickinson tells "Entertainment Tonight" that the comedian drugged and raped her in 1982.
Nov. 20, 2014 Theresa Serignese comes forward as the seventh woman to accuse Cosby of sexual assault, saying that he drugged and assaulted her in 1976. Cosby’s attorneys have dismissed Serignese and other accusations as “decades old, discredited” accounts.
TV Land pulls planned repeats of "The Cosby Show" from its schedule amid sexual assault allegations against the comedian. NBC and Netflix also shelve projects with the comedian.
Meanwhile, The Associated Press releases video of its Nov. 6 interview with Cosby in which he tells the interviewer to "scuttle" footage of him refusing to comment on the assault charges.
Nov. 21, 2014 More women come forward, including Carla Ferrigno, wife and manager of "Incredible Hulk" actor Lou Ferrigno, who says Cosby "attacked" her when she was a teenager. Nurse Theresa Serignese tells "20/20" that Cosby drugged and raped her in 1976 when she was 19. Others tell similar stories of being drugged and forced to have sex.
Cosby's lawyer Martin Singer tells ABC News, "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. 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."
Cosby himself tells Florida Today, "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."
Nov. 23, 2014 Former NBC employee Frank Scotti tells the New York Daily News that he paid off eight women on Cosby's behalf, sending thousands of dollars in money orders to the women to keep them quiet. Cosby’s attorney called Scotti’s tale “pure speculation,” according to the original news report, and challenged him to bring forth evidence to back his story.
Nov. 26, 2014 Cosby resigns as honorary co-chair of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst’s capital campaign. Citing newly uncovered 2005 depositions Cosby gave to Constand’s lawyer, The New York Times reports that Cosby stated under oath that gave an exclusive interview to the National Enquirer in 2005 in return for a promise to spike a story about another, previously undisclosed sexual assault allegation against him.
Nov. 30, 2014 In a first-person essay for Vanity Fair, model Beverly Johnson accuses Cosby of drugging her in the mid-1980s but says she doesn’t believe she was raped. She later tells ABC News, "I knew that I was in danger, I knew that this was not a recreational drug of any kind, it was...I was really afraid, I was afraid for my life."
Dec. 1, 2014 Cosby resigns from Temple University's board of trustees.
Dec. 3, 2014 Cosby breaks his silence on Twitter to thank Whoopi Goldberg and singer Jill Scott for their support. Both women have since publicly backed off of their support.
Dec. 2, 2014 Judy Huth files a civil lawsuit that Cosby forced her to perform a sex act in 1974 at the Playboy Mansion when she was 15, the comedian fires back with a lawsuit, saying Huth is lying and trying to extort money from him. Huth is the first woman to come forward claiming Cosby assaulted her when she was underage. The case is ongoing, and attorney Gloria Allred has sought to freeze all discovery pending the outcome of the criminal trial.
The Navy also announces in a statement to the Associated Press that it is revoking Cosby's title of honorary chief petty officer, saying allegations of sexual abuse made against the comedian are serious and conflict with the Navy's core values.
Dec. 13, 2014 Cosby tells New York Post reporter Stacy Brown that he expects "the black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism" and stay neutral. He also said his wife, Camille, is standing by him.
Dec. 15, 2014 Camille Cosby 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."
Dec. 16, 2014 The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office declines to charge Cosby in response to the Huth allegations, citing the statute of limitations.
Cosby's daughter Evin releases her own statement. "He is the FATHER you thought you knew," she tells "Access Hollywood." "'The Cosby Show' was my today's TV reality show. Thank you. That's all I would like to say :)"
Jan. 7, 2015 Phylicia Rashad, 66, who played Cosby's wife Claire Huxtable on "The Cosby Show," clarifies remarks she made earlier defending her former co-star. Rashad said that in all the years she worked with Cosby, she never saw any of the behavior described by dozens of women. In an interview with ABC News, she said, “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 the legacy. And it’s a legacy that is so important to the culture.”
"We are really missing what is wrong here, which is, this is the United States of America. I know it's changing, but it's still the United States of America and there are tenets that we live by," she continued. "There is the Constitution of the United States, which ensures innocence until proof of guilt and that has not happened. But what has happened is declaration in the media of guilt, without proof. And a legacy is being destroyed because of it. It's being obliterated."
Jan. 7, 2015 At a press conference, attorney Gloria Allred introduces three new Cosby accusers, including "Prior Alleged Victim Six," known only then "Kacey," but was later revealed to be Johnson. Her testimony was the sole supporting allegations to Constand’s account in Cosby’s criminal trial. Johnson, who grew emotional as she read her statement, charges that Cosby drugged and assaulted her in 1996 while she was working at the William Morris Agency for Cosby former agent Tom Lilius. She said in a statement that Cosby insisted she take a "large white pill" and then sought to confirm she had swallowed it - after which she said she woke up naked in bed with him. As with Constand and other accusers, Cosby has acknowledged the encounter but said that any sex was consensual.
March 10, 2015 Model Jennifer Thompson tells the AP that Cosby pursued her aggressively and once gave her $700 after she performed a sex act on him. Former Cosby attorney Marty Singer did not immediately respond to Thompson’s claims, but has called the flood of similar allegations “unsubstantiated.”
March 13, 2015 Former model Lise-Lotte Lublin asks Nevada legislators to rescind the state’s statute of limitations on sexual assault, saying she suspects Cosby drugged her drink in a Las Vegas hotel in 1989. Through his attorneys, Cosby has always denied all accusations of wrongdoing.
May 15, 2015 In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Linsey Davis, Cosby responds to critics who call him a hypocrite for moralizing about black America while facing sexual assault allegations.
July 6, 2015 Court documents from Constand's 2005 lawsuit are released in which Cosby admitted to giving a woman Quaaludes. Cosby said he obtained the drugs with the idea that he would give them to a woman with whom he wanted to have sex. The release followed a court battle in which Constand filed a motion to have the deposition unsealed because Cosby had violated the nondisclosure agreement by responding to the newly surfaced allegations.
July 26, 2015 Spelman College discontinues its endowed professorship named after Cosby and returns the remaining funds to the comedian and his wife, who had previously donated $20 million to the black college.
July 27, 2015 New York magazine photographs 35 of Cosby's accusers for a stunning cover story, in which they tell their stories of the alleged assaults and their decision to come forward.
September 24, 2015 Marquette and Fordham universities revoke Cosby's honorary degrees.
October 6, 2015 Chloe Goins, a 25-year-old Las Vegas model and one of the youngest women to come forward, files a lawsuit against Cosby, claiming he drugged and assaulted her in 2008 when she was just a teenager. Los Angeles prosecutors are reviewing her case after the LAPD presented the findings of their investigation. Cosby has previously denied the accusations, saying he was not at the party at the Playboy mansion where the alleged incident took place, and Goins dropped the lawsuit in February, 2016.
October 9, 2015 Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents a number of Cosby's accusers, deposes the comedian under oath in Huth's civil lawsuit.
October 15, 2015 Tufts University and Goucher College strip Cosby of his honorary degrees. Days later, Amherst College rescinds Cosby's honorary doctorate -- the first time in the school's history.
October 21, 2015 Cosby fires his longtime lawyer, Marty Singer, one of his most vocal defenders in the press.
November 4, 2015 Kevin Steele beats Bruce Castor Jr. after a bitter race for Montgomery County District Attorney. The campaign was marked by deep animosity between the two men, with Steele accusing Castor in one ad of failing to bring criminal charges against Cosby, and “not looking out for the [alleged Cosby] victims.” Castor fired back, calling that accusation “despicable, desperation politics, disgusting lies,” according to the Montgomery News.
December 14, 2015 Cosby files a defamation counter-suit today against seven women who previously accused him of sexual misconduct. The original suit was filed by Green in December 2014 and the other women joined this year.
The comedian's lawyer, Monique Pressley, said in a statement obtained by ABC News that Tamara Green, Therese Serignese, Linda Traitz, Louisa Moritz, Barbara Bowman, Joan Tarshis and Angela Leslie have made "malicious, opportunistic and false and defamatory" comments about him.
Green, who in 2006 told People magazine that Cosby drugged and groped her, filed a defamation suit against Cosby in December, 2014. Serignese, Traitz, Moritz, Bowman, Tarshis and Leslie joined the suit this year.
December 21, 2015 A week later, Cosby files a defamation lawsuit against Beverly Johnson. In a statement from his lawyer, he says "he never drugged defendant and her story is a lie" and is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, a retraction of her statements, and the removal of the chapter from her memoir in which the incident is mentioned.
Dec. 30, 2015 More than 50 women have come forward, most of them within the past thirteen months, but the legendary actor and comedian had never been charged with a crime -- until now. Two weeks before the statute of limitations runs out, Cosby is charged with drugging and sexually assaulting Constand in 2004. He did not enter a plea at his arraignment and is free on $1 million bail.
"The charge by the Montgomery County District Attorney's office came as no surprise, filed 12 years after the alleged incident and coming on the heels of a hotly contested election for this county's DA during which this case was made the focal point," Pressley said in a statement. "Make no mistake, we intend to mount a vigorous defense against this unjustified charge and we expect that Mr. Cosby will be exonerated by a court of law."
December 31, 2015 Cosby tweets “Thank You” to friends and family.
Feb. 2, 2016 Former D.A. Castor testifies that he didn’t file charges in 2005 in the Cosby case because he didn’t think the Constand allegations would stand up in court. Castor gave three reasons why he didn't bring criminal charges against Cosby in 2005: it took Constand almost a year to come forward; the inability to collect forensic evidence; the fact that Constand contacted a civil lawyer in Philadelphia before going to police in Canada to file a report.
February 3, 2016 Judge Steven T. O’Neill, a judge on the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, rules that Cosby case can go forward, and declines to remove Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele from the case, despite Cosby team’s objections.
Feb. 16, 2016 Court documents reveal that in early February, 2016, Cosby filed a federal civil lawsuit against Constand’s lawyers, Dolores M. Troiani and Bebe H. Kivitz, according to the New York Times. “The exact nature of the suit is unclear,” the paper reports, “because it is still partly under seal.”
Feb 22, 2016 Camille Cosby gives 2.5 hours of testimony in a deposition with lawyers for seven women suing Cosby for defamation.
Feb. 25, 2016 Cosby drops lawsuit against Beverly Johnson.
May 24, 2016 Cosby is ordered to stand trial in the sexual assault case by Montgomery County Magisterial District Court Judge Elizabeth McHugh. He waived a formal arraignment, and thus, automatically entered a plea of not guilty. The case is assigned to Judge O’Neill.
June 8, 2016 Cosby again seeks to have the indecent sexual assault charge dismissed. “The District Attorney’s win-at-all-costs tactics in this matter are stretching the rules past the breaking point,” the motion stated. The motion is denied.
July 18, 2016 Cosby is now completely blind, a source close to him tells Page Six. Cosby has suffered from a degenerative eye condition called keratoconus, which causes the eye’s cornea to bulge.
Sept. 9, 2016 For the first time in the Constand case, Cosby’s lawyers claim racism, The AP reports. “Mr. Cosby is no stranger to discrimination and racial hatred,” the lawyers said in a statement. “When the media repeats her accusations -- with no evidence, no trial and no jury -- we are moved backwards as a country and away from the America that our civil rights leaders sacrificed so much to create.”
Feb. 24, 2017 Judge O’Neill allows one additional woman, now known to be Johnson, who says Bill Cosby sexually assaulted her to testify in the upcoming trial.
Feb 27, 2017 Judge O’Neill agrees to a request by an attorney for Bill Cosby to bring in a jury from outside Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, for the entertainer’s trial for alleged criminal sexual assault.
April 26, 2017 Cosby’s daughter Evin issues a statement defending her father. “I know that my father loves me, loves my sisters and my mother," she said. "He loves and respects women. He is not abusive, violent or a rapist."
The Hollywood Reporter publishes a story, "The Brash Plan to Defend Bill Cosby," in which Cosby defense attorney Angela Agrusa opens up about legal strategy, including the potential to introduce the psychological theory of “false memory creation.” During case hearings in July 2015, Constand attorney Dolores Troiani suggested that Cosby may suffer from somnophilia, known as a “Sleeping Beauty” fetish, in which the pursuer receives pleasure by waking a sleeping girl for sex. Neither Cosby nor his attorneys have ever made that claim.
May 16, 2017 In his first interview in two years, with Sirius XM radio, Cosby says he won’t take the stand, and reiterates the claim that racism may be partly responsible for the dozens of sexual assault allegations against him. Social media reacts swiftly to Cosby’s comments tying race to the sexual assault allegations.
May 25, 2017 Jury selection ends two days after it began. The jury, which was selected from Allegheny County, is comprised of seven men and five women. Two of the twelve jurors are black, which translates to roughly 17 percent. In Allegheny County, the black community is just 13 percent of the total population, according to Suburban Stats.
June 5, 2017: Cosby's criminal trial begins. He arrives in court arm-in-arm with his former "Cosby Show" co-star, Keshia Knight Pulliam. "The man that I've known as a child was funny and witty and smart and philanthropic and full of advice," she told ABC News. "I can only go based on who I've experienced, and at the end of the day, it's the court's job to find the truth of the matter."