In the space of a few years, Bill Cosby went from being one of America’s top actors and comedians— once the highest paid actor in the US— to alleged rapist. Now, it’s been decided that the case will go to trial. This isn’t the first time accusations have been made against him, but it is the first time they have made it to criminal court.
The allegations were brought to public attention after a comment made during a stand up routine by comedian Hannibal Buress in 2014. If you’re wondering why Cosby’s standing trial (or why now) here’s some background on the case.
The accuserMany women have spoken out against Cosby, but this trial concerns only the allegations made by Andrea Constand that Cosby drugged and raped her in his home in 2004.Why now?Constand initially told police about the attack in 2005, but there was deemed insufficient evidence to file charges and the district attorney told Cosby he would never bring charges against him. However, after Buress made his joke (and it went viral), over 40 women came forward to tell their story. Now, the number is closer to 60. Amidst this, Constand’s case has been reopened.In 2015, Chloe Goins sued Cosby for a rape that allegedly occurred in 2008 in the Playboy Mansion – but the suit was later dropped. Cosby had earlier settled with Goins – in November 2006 – for an undisclosed amount.
The chargesIn early May 2016 Judge Elizabeth McHugh ruled that there was sufficient evidence against Cosby to bring him to trial. He faces three counts of felony indecent assault.The other victimsAlmost 60 women have come forward claiming that Cosby has abused them; you may have seen them on the cover of the New Yorker, or heard their stories on the news and radio. The alleged crimes span back to the 1960s, which means that for the majority of the cases, the statute of limitations has run out. Many are speaking up on behalf of those who cannot bring charges.The alleged assaultsThe charges range from harassment to molestation. Most of the accusers’ stories share similarities, involving spiked drinks and pills, losing consciousness and waking up realising they had been violated. Many of the alleged victims did not report the incidents at the time; others did but felt like their stories were ignored.
The timeline of abuseThe allegations stem from the mid 1960s, when Cosby was working as a stand-up comedian and Emmy winning actor in ‘I Spy,’ to the most recent case in 2008. For every decade in between, there are several alleged victims claiming assault.
The defendantIn public, Cosby has refused to address the allegations, passing them off as “innuendo.” But behind the scenes, it’s a different story. After she called to confront him, Cosby apparently confessed to molesting Constand to her mother. On top of that, in a previously sealed deposition from 2005, Cosby also admitted to drugging women and having sex with teenagers.The sentenceIf convicted, Cosby could face 10 years in prison and would have to register as a sex offender.