Once a dearly beloved comedian and actor, known most for his role in The Cosby Show, Bill Cosby's reputation shattered in the mid 2010s when a total of 60 women accused him of sex crimes.
After starting out as a stand-up comedian, in the 1970s, Cosby starred in more than a dozen films. Now, he is incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution in Phoenix, Pennsylvania after being convicted of 3 counts of aggravated indecent assault, landing him 3-10 years. (Most of the allegations fell outside of the statute of limitations.)
Cosby has maintained his innocence since the first allegation came out.
ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AND MISCONDUCT
Many of the accusations against Bill Cosby were between the years of 1965 and 1996. The earliest of these came from Kristina Ruehli in 1965, who accused the actor of drugging and assaulting her in his home in Beverly Hills, California. Though she told her boyfriend at the time, and her daughter in 1980, the first time she came forward about the assault was in 2005. (Which, for the record, does not discount her story.)
Then again in the 1980s, Joan Tarshis told a freelance reporter about her assault at the hands of Cosby, and in 1996, Playboy Playmate Victoria Valentino gave an interview where she made sexual assault allegations against Cosby, though the interview was never published.
And then, things were quiet until February of 2000 when Lachele Covington, a 20 year old woman, filed a criminal complaint against the comedian alleging that a few days before, he had tried to force her hands into his pants, and then exposed himself. She claimed he grabbed her breasts, as well. Her complaint was referred to the D.A., who declined to prosecute. Then in 2004, Andrea Constand, a former employee of Temple University, accused Cosby of drugging and fondling her. When the D.A. said no charges would be filed due to insufficient evidence, she filed a civil claim where 13 women, (including Kristina), were listed as potential witnesses. Cosby settled out of court.
In July of 2005, Beth Ferrier, who was one of the "Jane Doe's" from the Constand case, alleged that in 1984, Cosby drugged her coffee and she woke up with her clothes partially removed, with no idea what happened. That same year, Shawn Upshaw Brown, a woman Cosby admitted to cheating on his wife with, said she was drugged and raped the first time they were "together sexually". (Which is a terrible way of phrasing this, Wikipedia. He raped her, and then they did go on to have a consensual sexual relationship.)
In 2006, an article detailing the various claims against Cosby was published in Philadelphia magazine, titled Dr. Huxtable & Mr. Hyde in an allusion to his beloved sitcom character. The article detailed the stories of those who had already come out against him, and a new claim from Barbara Bowman, who said that at the age of 18 she was drugged and assaulted by Cosby while she was an aspiring actress and model.
But despite all of these accusations, Bill Cosby retained an essentially untarnished image. Accusations were kept hidden and pushed to the back-burner and most people continued to see him as a good man and role model, despite the accounts of his sexual misconduct being public. It wasn't until a 2014 stand-up show by comedian Hannibal Buress that his history of sexual assault became common knowledge.
During a routine in Philadelphia, Buress was talking about Cosby's well-known legacy of "talking down" to young black men about how their dress and lifestyle makes people perceive them. And then he said, "yeah, but you raped women, Bill Cosby, so that kind of brings you down a couple of notches". As a continuation of his "joke", he encouraged people to Google "Bill Cosby rape" when they went home. Once Philadelphia got a hand of the stand-up routine, the media coverage intensified.
After that stand-up routine, Joan Tarshis, as well as a model, actresses, wife of an actor, nurse, Playboy playmates, and 11 other women came forward with their own stories between 1965 and 2002. Later that year, Charlotte Laws wrote about Cosby assaulting a friend of hers, and another model alleged that she was drugged during a 1986 audition, and that she knew other women who went through the same thing.
During this time, Cosby's lawyer said that he didn't need to "dignify these allegations with any comment", claiming they were entirely unsubstantiated.
But allegations kept coming in. And the media wasn't going to let it go unreported this time. On July 27, 2015, New York magazine's cover featured 35 women sitting in chairs, with the last chair empty, and the feature story was about all of the women who had been assaulted by Bill Cosby. On September 17, 2015, 15 victims were interviewed. By October of the same year, nearly 60 women had come forward. "We may be looking at America's greatest serial rapist that ever got away with this for the longest amount of time. He got away with it because he was hiding behind the image of Cliff Huxtable," one of his accusers said.
Though most of the allegations fell outside of the statute of limitations and Cosby would only be convicted of 3 counts, there are so many women who's stories are still important and valid even though they are still listed as "alleged". Here are the names of these brave women who came forward to bring down one of the most beloved actors of his time and expose him as one of the worst serial sex abusers, instead.
Trigger warning, for descriptions of sexual assault and raped.
Barbara Bowman: raped in 1986, came forward in 2005. Alleged that he drugged and raped her, and destroyed her acting career when she tried to fight back.
Beverly Johnson: he attempted to assault her in the 1980s, came forward in 2013. Alleged that he spiked her coffee to assault her, but she was able to escape.
Louisa Mortiz, raped in 1971, came forward in 2014. Claims he forced oral sex back stage of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.
Kristina Ruehli, raped in 1965, came forward in 2015. Alleges she was invited to a party at his home where she was the only guest, and he drugged and raped her.
Therese Serignese, raped in 1976, came forward in 2005. Claims he gave her Quaaludes after his comedy show before raping her. He said in his 2005 deposition that he did give her drugs, but said the sex was consensual.
Tamara Green, assaulted in the 1970s, came forward in 2005. She worked at his restaurant and he drove her to his house, where he attempted to rape her but she fought back.
Beth Ferrier, assaulted in the 1980s, came forward in 2005. She once had a consensual sexual relationship with him, but one time after calling it off, he drugged her and she woke up with some of her clothes off.
Joan Tarshis, raped in 1969, came forward in the 1980s. Claims that Cosby mixed her drink while working together and she awoke to him raping her.
Victoria Valentino, raped in 1970, came forward in 1996. Was offered pills before he drove her to his home. Friends corroborated that she told them immediately after.
Janice Dickinson, raped in 1982, came forward in 2002. She woke up in a hotel room with him raping her after she got out of rehab.
Carla Ferrigno, he attempted to assault her in 1967, came forward in 2014. Was at a party at his house when he forcefully grabbed her and kissed her before she got away.
Linda Joy Traitz, sexually assaulted in 1969, came forward in 2014. He offered her a ride home from her shift at his restaurant but instead drove her to a secluded area and groped her, trying to force her to take pills.
Renita Chaney Hill, sexually assaulted as a child in 1982, came forward in 2014. She was 15 when he would drug her while she worked on his show. He paid for her college.
Angela Leslie, sexually assaulted in 1992, came forward in 2014. During an acting audition, he stripped and tried to force her hand onto his penis. He paid her regularly after this.
Lachele Covington, sexually assaulted in 2000, came forward in 2000. As an extra on the show, he tried to get her to put her hands in his pants. She came forward immediately, but no charges were filed.
Patricia Leary Steuer, sexually assaulted in 1978 and 1980, came forward in 2015. Twice went to his house for a "party" but woke up not remembering what happened, or fully naked.
Linda Kirkpatrick, sexually assaulted in 1981, came forward in 2015. Invited backstage after a show where she was drugged and Cosby tried to get on top of her.
Linda Brown, sexually assaulted in 1969, came forward in 2015. Had dinner with Cosby and when she woke up she was naked and he was assaulting her.
Kaya Thompson, sexually assaulted in the 1980s, came forward in 2015. On the set of the Cosby show, he forced himself on her.
Sunni Welles, sexually assaulted in the 1960s, came forward in 2015. He had offered her drinks at a club, but she woke up naked after 2 separate nights with him with no memory.
"Kacey", sexually assaulted in 1996, came forward in 2015. She worked professionally with him, but once he gave her a pull to "relax" and she woke up next to him in bed.
Chelan Lasha, sexually assaulted in 1986, came forward in 2015. He was helping her pursue a modeling career when he gave her a drink which knocked her out and he began assaulting her. He gave her $1,500.
Helen Hayes, groped in 1973, came forward in 2014. Stalked her during the Celebrity Tennis Tournament and then groped her breasts.
Heidi Thomas, raped in 1984, came forward in 2015. During an audition, she was drugged and awoke to him performing oral rape.
PJ Masten, raped in 1979, came forward in 2015. He invited her to dinner where he drugged her and she woke up naked and bruised.
Sarita Butterfield, groped in 1977, came forward in 2014. Was able to fend off further advances from him.
Janice Baker-Kinney, raped in 1982, came forward in 2015. Invited to a party with a friend where, once again, they were the only guests. She blacked out and woke up naked in bed with him.
Autumn Burns, raped in 1970, came forward in 2015. While working at a Vegas casino, he offered to help her in the entertainment industry. He drugged her and forced oral sex.
Lili Bernard, raped in the 1990s, came forward in 2015. Was drugged, raped, and threatened while guest-starring on The Cosby Show.
Sammie Mays, sexually assaulted in 1987, came forward in 2015. Was invited to his suite, offered a drink, and awoke to Cosby standing over her with no clothes on.
Margie Shapiro, raped in 1975, came forward in 2015. Was invited to a party at the Playboy Mansion. Was given a pill and woke up being raped.
Joyce Emmons, assaulted in 1979-1980, came forward in 2014. Was drugged and recalls waking up naked.
Rebecca Lynn Neal, raped in 1986, came forward in 2015. Would visit her at work until he gave her a shot that was drugged. She begged him to stop while he raped her.
Jewel Allison, raped in 1990, came forward in 2015. Came to his house for dinner, was drugged and woke up to semen on the floor.
Lise-Lotte Lublin, raped in 1989, came forward in 2015. During an audition, he offered her shots. She woke up to him straddling her.
Cindra Ladd, raped in 1969, came forward in 2015. He offered her a pill for a headache, and woke up naked with Cosby in a robe.
Helen Gumpel, sexually assaulted in 1987, came forward in 2015. During a feature on The Cosby Show, he came into her dressing room but she thwarted all advances.
Kathy McKee, raped in 1973, came forward in 2014. A personal friend who went to his hotel room when he raped her.
Charlotte Fox, raped in the 1970s, came forward in 2015. While working on a show, she was invited to a Playboy Mansion party where she accused him of rape.
Marcella Tate, raped in 1975, came forward in 2015. Offered a drink at a party at Playboy Mansion and woke up naked in bed with Cosby.
Shawn Brown, raped in the 1970s, came forward in the 1990s. They had a well-known extramarital affair, but he insisted that she be freakier once and he ended up raping her.
Lisa Jones, he attempted to assault her in 1986, came forward in 2014. Was able to escape him trying to spread her legs during an audition.
Judith Huth, sexually assaulted as a child in 1974, came forward in 2014. He forced her to lie about her age and masturbated himself with her hand when she was only 15.
Eden Tirl, sexually harassed in 1990, came forward in 2015. Was ignored when she told show staffers that she was groped inside his dressing room.
"Elizabeth", raped in 1976, came forward in 2015. Met when she was a flight attendant and accepted his offer for dinner when he drugged and raped her.
Jena T, sexually assaulted in 1988, came forward in 2015. Paid her $700 after forced sexual activity when she was trying to make it as a model.
"Lisa", sexually assaulted in 1988, came forward in 2015. Invited her to his home to help her modeling career. Drugged her and touched her while she blacked out.
Michelle Hurd, he attempted to assault her in 1995, came forward in 2014. Touched her inappropriately while working on one of his shows.
Andrea Constand, sexually assaulted in 2004, came forward in 2005. Was one of the women who helped nearly 13 women come forward about their assaults at Cosby's hands.
Chloe Goins, sexually assaulted in 2008, came forward in 2014. Drugged at a party at the Playboy Mansion.
Lisa Christie, he attempted to assault her in 1989, came forward in 2015. During an audition, he tried to kiss her and have sex with her. He told her she'd never make it in the business if she didn't sleep with him.
Pamela Abeyta, raped in 1979, came forward in 2015. Said he'd help her get into Playboy, but he drugged her and she woke up to 3 naked men, one of them Cosby.
Sharon Van Ert, sexually assaulted in 1979, came forward in 2015. Offered a drink while working at a jazz club. Blacked out and woke up with her underwear missing.
"Sandy", raped in 1980, came forward in 2014. Charlotte Laws claimed this was one of her friends who was drugged and raped by Cosby.
Charlotte Kemp, he attempted to assault her in the 1980s, came forward in 2015. She was with Valentino the night that he assaulted her.
Dottye, raped in 1984, came forward in 2015. He invited her to his apartment after an audition and was drugged and raped.
Donna Barrett, sexually assaulted in 2004, came forward in 2015. He grabbed her and groped her during a photoshoot.
"Katy", raped in 1981, came forward in 2018. Was working as a cocktail waitress when she was offered a drink, and woke up naked and covered in bruises with Cosby.
Linda Ridgeway Whitedeer, sexually assaulted in the 1970s, came forward in 2015. Assaulted during an interview on a movie set.
And even though it just took me over an HOUR to type out all of the horrors that happened to these women, there were still more Jane Doe's who came forward and shared their stories. Cosby used his fame and power to lure women, and hid behind his TV persona to remain well-known as a charming, funny actor while committing all of these horrific crimes against women.
Because this article is already extremely long, and we truly should focus more on the brave survivors over the criminal, I'll end with this. On September 25, 2 years ago today, Cosby was sentenced to 3-10 years in prison for the crimes he committed. Most had reached the statute of limitations, so despite 60+ accusations, he was only charged on 3 counts.
Coming forward against celebrities must be a terrifying thing to do. People love celebrities like they are other-worldly, and because their fame and power, many think that people who come out against celebrities are just doing so for money and notoriety. But did you know the names of any of the women on that list? They didn't gain notoriety. They aren't famous people taking the world by storm. And as for money, many of them were paid YEARS ago back when it happened. 60+ women coming forward with similar stories is not a coincidence.
People will also argue that it didn't happen if it took them so many years to come forward. But one woman came forward the next day, and the police did nothing. Various women told Playboy Mansion staff, executives on TV shows, and other people in a position to do something and nothing happened. Even now, in 2020, a SMALL percentage of rapes are even prosecuted. It isn't crazy to think back in the 60s-90s that women would feel like there was no point in coming forward, especially against Cliff Huxtable.
Though people are legally "innocent until proven guilty" in the court of law, in the court of public opinion, we must hear women's accusations. We must understand that less than 2% of rape allegations are false. And we must cultivate a society where women feel safe to step up when they are assaulted.
Bill Cosby has now been behind bars for 2 years, and I truly hope he ends up serving closer to his 10 years than just 3. The women who bravely spoke out against him deserve to know that their trauma is taken seriously.