A Timeline of the Bill Cosby Abuse Allegations

by Kadeen Griffiths

It has been a rough month for the world at large — at least, those members of the world who were raised on The Cosby Show and Bill Cosby comedy specials. Ever since comedian Hannibal Buress called Cosby a rapist in a viral video, the world has woken up to sexual abuse allegations that go back almost two decades publicly and far more decades than that privately. Thus far, Cosby's lawyers have refused to comment on the allegations in any meaningful way, but the public is finally doing their homework on the horrifying stories that were told and ignored for so many years until now. Even worse — or better? — more and more women are coming forward to tell their stories while they have the public's ear and sympathy, the most recent being supermodel Janice Dickinson.

It can be hard to keep all of these allegations straight or truly wrap one's mind around how far back they go — for example, did you know that the first allegation against Cosby goes as far back as 2000? — and for that it would be helpful to have a timeline of the events. Throughout all of these lawsuits, witnesses, and claims, Cosby and his attorneys have denied, denied, denied. Even now, his lawyer reminds the world that repeating a story is not proof of its validity. However, it's still worth bearing these events in mind going forward. After all, we've done these alleged victims a disservice by ignoring them before and, if there's even a hint of truth to their stories, that's a mistake we shouldn't make again.

February 2000

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Actress Lachele Covington files a police report alleging that Cosby "put her hand under his T-shirt and guided it south toward his sweatpants." However, her twin sister Dechele Covington later told reporters by phone that her sister "was not molested" and police never questioned or charged the actor and comedian.

January 2005

Former Temple University employee Andrea Constand files a lawsuit against Cosby in which she claims that in January 2004, he drugged and molested her in his Pennsylvania home. That same month, following Constand's lawsuit, a California lawyer named Tamara Green does an interview on the TODAY show in which she corroborates Constand's tale with a story of her own, concerning an incident of drugging and molestation that took place in the 1970s. The court papers in the Constand case references ten other women who would come forward to testify.

February 2005

According to authorities, there is insufficient evidence in Constand's lawsuit to charge Cosby with any sexual misconduct. The investigating district attorney thus drops the criminal suit.

March 2005

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Constand files a civil suit against Cosby instead, in a case that now has 13 other anonymous women attached as supporting witnesses.

June 2005

One of the anonymous witnesses in Constand's suit is identified as Beth Ferrier by the Philadelphia Daily News. Ferrier claims that she met Cosby as an aspiring model in the 1980s and passed out after drinking coffee that he gave her. "I woke up and I was in the back of my car all alone," she said. "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."

June 2006

Philadelphia magazine does an in-depth piece on the Cosby accusations, recounting the stories of Constand, Ferrier, and Barbara Bowman, another newly revealed Jane Doe witness who spoke to the magazine.

November 2006

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Constand and Cosby settle the civil suit out of court for an undisclosed amount of money. None of the anonymous witnesses end up testifying against him.

December 2006

In a People Magazine article, Bowman's story is recounted in full and horrifying detail: "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 t-shirt that wasn't mine, and he was in a white robe."

February 2014

Not only does Gawker publish an article recounting all the sexual abuse allegations that were brought against Cosby in the past and ignored by the wider public, but Newsweek also interviews both Green and Bowman to give both women a chance to tell their stories again.

October 2014

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A video of Buress calling Cosby a rapist in a stand-up routine goes viral after being posted in Philadelphia magazine. The general reaction to the video is shock and public outcry that only intensifies once everyone realizes exactly how long these allegations have been openly floating around. Meanwhile, Bowman tells The Daily Mail a more detailed account of her assault and Buress reveals he's been doing this Cosby bit "for six months" before the media explosion.

November 2014

Bolstered by public support, Bowman writes an op-ed piece for The Washington Post asking why it took three decades and the voice of Buress for people to believe her story. Green is interviewed by People Magazine and she says of Cosby, "He is in fact a sexual predator. I don't dispute the fact the man has done much good, but he is a flawed man." In addition, two new alleged victims come forward with their stories: publicist Joan Tarshis and supermodel Janice Dickinson. What's next for Cosby at this point? Only time will tell.

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