The avalanche of sexual assault claims coming at comedian Bill Cosby in recent weeks may have ended his career.
Both NBC and Netflix have scrapped projects with the 77-year-old icon after long-forgotten rape claims from more than a dozen women were brought back into the light by comedian Hannibal Buress.
The network had previously announced a sitcom starring Cosby would debut next year but said on Wednesday the project, which had not yet been named, was to feature him in a family setting similar to the wildly successful “Cosby Show.”
The cancellation came one day after Netflix announced it was postponing the launch of a Cosby standup comedy special. It was set to debut on Black Friday.
Both blows may prove to be fatal to the aging icon’s showbiz career. He is not known to have had any further projects on the table.
At least 14 women claim Cosby sexually assaulted them in claims dating back to 1969.
Below is a timeline of the rape claims.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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. “I can still remember him messing with his belt. And I was screaming and crying and yelling and begging him to stop.”
Cosby settles with Constand. Terms are not disclosed, and none of the 13 other women testify.
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.
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.
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 18, 2014
On Entertainment Tonight, supermodel Janice Dickinson becomes the 15th 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.