During a press conference on Wednesday morning, Bill Cosby was charged with felony aggravated indecent assault for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee, at his Pennsylvania mansion in 2004. Constand was one of the first of the now more than 50 women who publicly claimed to be assaulted by the comedian. The current criminal charge against Cosby marks a major shift in what the allegations against him mean (he faces up to 10 years in prison), so who exactly is Andrea Constand? (Bustle has reached out to Cosby's lawyer regarding the charge, but has not yet heard back.)
Constand later filed a civil suit against Cosby in 2005, which was settled out of court. Cosby's current felony charge, however, is stemming from the reopened case (reopened due to new evidence released over the summer, first assistant to the district attorney Kevin Steele said during Wednesday's press conference), and it is a timely charge considering the statute of limitations runs out in January 2016.
Constand, now 42, was the operations manager of the Temple University women's basketball team when she first met Cosby in November 2002. According to the civil lawsuit she filed in 2005, she and Cosby began a friendship and she "considered him to be both her friend, albeit older, and a mentor." In January 2004, according to the lawsuit, Cosby invited Constand to his Pennsylvania home, "telling her he wanted to offer her assistance in her pursuit of a different career." Constand, who is gay and was in a relationship with a woman at the time of the alleged assault, says she agreed to go over. She was then allegedly molested and drugged by Cosby.
Constand is now a massage therapist living in Toronto, Canada, according to her Twitter account, which features frequent photos of herself in nature. One of her most recent photos is a picture of her arm with a "consent" bracelet and a tattoo of the hashtag "#tellsomeone."
As for the night Cosby allegedly assaulted her, her original lawsuit claims: After Cosby gave Constand "three blue pills" to help calm her nerves, Constand alleges that "[Cosby] positioned himself behind [Constand] on the sofa, touched her breasts and vaginal area, rubbed his penis against her hand, and sexually assaulted her."
According to Cosby's own deposition in the civil lawsuit Constand filed against him (a deposition that was unsealed this summer and obtained by the New York Times), the actor admitted to giving Constand Benadryl and having a "sexual moment" with her. Cosby claimed that he and Constand had a consensual sexual relationship. In fact, Cosby maintained in the deposition that over the course of their relationship that the two were "playing sex, we’re playing, petting, we’re playing."
Though Constand did not initially go to the police (her lawyer Dolores Troiani explained that this was because of "her feelings of betrayal and shame, Cosby's celebrity status, and Cosby's stature at Temple, her employer"), she later brought both criminal and civil lawsuits against the actor. During her civil lawsuit, 13 other women came forward to meet with Constand's attorneys to tell their own stories of being drugged and/or sexually assaulted by the actor.
Cosby, who has not only vehemently denied every accusation against him but is also filing defamation lawsuits against several of his accusers, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
In November 2014, when the allegations against Cosby began to increase, his lawyer at the time released the following statement:
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 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.