The backstory behind the shocking Bill Cosby rape allegations

  • Bill Cosby was found guilty in his sexual assault trial on Thursday.
  • Several women have come forward over the years with accusations of sexual assault.
  • Cosby is now facing possible prison time.

Famed comedian Bill Cosby was found guilty in his sexual assault trial on Thursday.

He was found guilty on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, and he now faces dozens of years of prison time.

The accusations against Cosby have common threads, painting a picture of a man who allegedly used his power and influence in the entertainment industry to seek out vulnerable young women and lure them in with the promise of mentorship.

Some have said they were discouraged from going public because of Cosby’s fame, power, and reputation as “America’s dad.”

Here’s an overview of who has publicly accused him so far:

Andrea Constand

Constand alleges that Cosby sexually assaulted her in his Montgomery County, Pennsylvania home in 2004.

She went to police with the allegations, but the district attorney ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Cosby.The district attorney on the case told the Daily Mail that at the time, he thought Cosby was probably guilty and he wanted to arrest him, but he didn’t have sufficient proof of the alleged assault.

There wasn’t any physical evidence for the case because Constand waited a year before going to police.

After police declined to charge C0sby, Constand filed a civil suit and lined up 13 other women as supporting witnesses who had stories about Cosby similar to hers. She settled the lawsuit in 2006 for an undisclosed amount.

Constand, now 41, used to work for the women’s basketball program at Temple University, Cosby’s alma mater. She said she met Cosby in 2002 and saw him as a mentor. He invited her for dinners at his house, she told the Daily Mail.

She claimed in court documents that in 2004, she went to Cosby’s house for a visit at his request. He reportedly told her that he wanted to help her pursue a new career. When Constand talked about being stressed, he allegedly gave her three blue pills that he said were an “herbal medication” to help her relax.

Constand said she then began to feel shaky, weak, and dizzy. She said she told Cosby she wasn’t feeling well, and he led her to a sofa where he laid her down. Constand was allegedly so impaired that she couldn’t walk on her own.

She said Cosby then positioned himself behind her on the sofa and began touching her inappropriately. He then allegedly sexually assaulted her. Constand claimed she was barely conscious throughout the attack.

Constand woke up at about 4 a.m. with her clothes and underwear in disarray, according to the lawsuit. Cosby allegedly greeted her in his bathrobe before she left his house.

Tamara Green

Tamara GreenScreenshot/TODAY

Green, a lawyer who lives in California, was the only named supporting witness in Constand’s suit.

When Green heard that the district attorney thought Constand’s story was weak and that she didn’t come forward quickly enough, she decided to step forward and tell her story.

She claimed Cosby assaulted her in the 1970s. Green told Newsweek she met Cosby through a friend when she was 19 years old and modelling in Los Angeles.

Green said she met Cosby for a business lunch one day while she had the flu. He allegedly gave her pills he said were cold medicine.

Green told the “Today” show in 2005 she was “face down on the table of the restaurant” about 30 minutes after taking the pills. Cosby allegedly offered to take her home. Once they were at Green’s apartment, he allegedly undressed her and assaulted her in her bed.

Eventually, Green said, she started throwing things. Cosby left her apartment after leaving two $US100 bills on her coffee table, according to Green.

She never reported the alleged assault to the police because, as she said in the Newsweek interview, “it never works out [for the victim], unless you’re bleeding and there’s DNA and an eyewitness. I was 19 and he was the king of the world … Nobody would have believed me.”

Green told the news magazine that coming forward with the allegations essentially ended her career as a lawyer.

Barbara Bowman

Barbara BowmanScreenshot/PostTV

Bowman, another witness in Constand’s lawsuit, came forward and identified herself in 2006 in interviews with Philadelphia news outlets. She more recently wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post in light of the viral comedy video that called Cosby a rapist.

Bowman, now 47, said she met Cosby in 1985 when she was a 17-year-old aspiring actress. He became a father figure and mentor to her, she said.

She claimed Cosby drugged and raped her several times during the two years they knew each other. Bowman told the Daily Mail that he flew her all over the country and invited her to attend events with him to “see if [she] was worth mentoring and grooming” for an acting career.

Bowman said in the Daily Mail interview that Cosby brainwashed her and befriended her mother to gain her trust. He eventually started giving her drugs and raping her, Bowman alleged. She said she continued to see him because he was a useful mentor while she was trying to build a career in the entertainment industry.

One time, Bowman said, she had one glass of wine at Cosby’s house and then came to a while later slumped over a toilet throwing up while wearing a man’s t-shirt. She told the Daily Mail that he was wearing a robe as he was helping her after she regained consciousness.

The last incident happened in Atlantic City, she said. She wrote in the Post op-ed that she fought him when he tried to pin her to his bed, and he called her a “baby” and sent her home.

Beth Ferrier

Ferrier met Cosby in 1984 while she was working as a young model in New York, according to Philadelphia Magazine. She was another unnamed witness in the Constand lawsuit.

She came forward with her story in the Philadelphia Daily News in 2005 after the suit was filed but before it was settled.

Her relationship with Cosby started as a consensual affair, she told the Daily News. She said in 2005 the affair lasted about six months, but she told People magazine in 2006 that it was an on-and-off affair that lasted several years. Ferrier claimed that at one point after they decided to end the affair, Cosby drugged and assaulted her when she went to see him perform in Denver.

Cosby allegedly gave Ferrier her “favourite coffee” that he made to relax her. After she drank it, she said, she started to feel woozy. She allegedly woke up in the back seat of her car several hours later with her clothes disheveled.

When she confronted him at his hotel later, he allegedly told her she had too much to drink.

Ferrier told People magazine in 2006 that she had recently lost her father when she met Cosby and was “very vulnerable.” Cosby was a mentor and father figure to her, she said.

Joan Tarshis

Joan TarshisScreenshot/CNN

Hollywood Elsewhere published accusations from Tarshis, a former actress who said Cosby raped her in 1969. She decided to come forward after seeing renewed media attention on the Cosby allegations.

Tarshis was 19 years old when she flew to Los Angeles to work on a monologue. Friends she was staying with reportedly knew Cosby. She said she met Cosby at a lunch and he took a liking to her.

Cosby reportedly asked Tarshis to work on some material with him one day, and he gave her a drink. Tarshis claimed that she vaguely remembers being undressed by Cosby and telling him she had an infection so that he wouldn’t have sex with her. He allegedly still sexually assaulted her.

Tarshis told Hollywood Elsewhere about one other incident that allegedly occurred in a hotel room when he invited her to an event. She said she went because she was too ashamed to tell her mother what had happened and turn down the invitation.

She never went to police with the allegations. Tarshis told Philadelphia Magazine earlier this week: “What could I say? I was 19 years old. I felt, ‘He’s Bill Cosby. He’ll lawyer himself up. I don’t have a lawyer. It’s going to be he said, she said, and they will look at me like I’m crazy.’ … My reputation would have been ruined.”

Tarshis also pointed out that at the time the assault allegedly happened, no other women had come forward with similar accusations.

Janice Dickinson

Janice DickinsonScreenshot / Entertainment Tonight

Dickinson, a supermodel and TV personality, is so far the most high-profile woman to publicly come forward and accuse Cosby of sexual assault.

She told Entertainment Tonight that the alleged assault happened in 1982. Dickinson, now 59, said she met Cosby at the request of her agent, who was trying to get her booked on “The Cosby Show.”

Dickinson later landed in rehab for drug and alcohol abuse. She said Cosby called her while she was there, and then after she got out, he invited her to visit him while he was performing in Lake Tahoe. He allegedly told her he wanted to offer her a job and help her develop a singing career.

Dickinson claimed that after she had dinner with Cosby in Lake Tahoe, she had a glass of wine and a pill that Cosby gave her in her room.

She said the last thing she remembers before she passed out was seeing Cosby take off his patchwork robe and get on top of her.

She told ET that she never went to police about the alleged assault because she was “embarrassed and ashamed” and “was afraid of being labelled a whore or a slut and trying to sleep my way to the top of a career that never took place.”

Dickinson has previously alluded to her issues with Cosby, but hadn’t publicly accused him of sexual assault before this week. She told ET that she wanted to write about the assault in her 2002 autobiography, but was pressured by Cosby and his lawyers to remove the details of the incident.

She said the alleged assault is one of the “biggest resentments” of her life.

Therese Serignese

Serignese, a 57-year-old Florida nurse, came forward and identified herself as another of the 13 witnesses in Constand’s suit. She claimed Cosby raped her 38 years ago in Las Vegas.

Serignese told The Huffington Post that she met Cosby in 1976 when she was 19 years old.

She was in Las Vegas visiting her mother and Cosby was in town to perform at the Hilton, she told WPTV News. She said she ran into him at the hotel’s gift shop while she was there with her sister looking at jewellery. He reportedly came up to her, put his arm around her, and invited her to come see his show later.

Backstage after the show, Cosby allegedly gave Serignese two white pills. She said the next thing she remembers is Cosby raping her in a bathroom.

She kept in touch with him intermittently throughout the next 20 years, she told HuffPo. There was reportedly one more sexual encounter in 1985.

Serignese also alleges that Cosby put her up in a Hilton penthouse for three weeks after the alleged rape in Las Vegas and then sent her money in 1996 after she got into a car accident.

She said she was initially reluctant to report the assault because she thought no one would believe her, but she eventually came forward after hearing about Constand’s allegations.

Still others coming forward

With so much attention on these past allegations, several other women have come forward who hadn’t previously spoken out about Cosby.

Angela Leslie, a 52-year-old former model and actress, claimed in a New York Daily News report that Cosby assaulted her in a hotel room 22 years ago. She said she met him in 1990 after she sent him a letter and photo hoping to land a role in his movie “Ghost Dad.” Cosby reportedly then invited her to the set of his show. She said the assault happened in a hotel suite in 1992 when Cosby reportedly asked her to audition for him. Leslie said he gave her a drink and told her to act like she was intoxicated. She didn’t drink what Cosby gave her, but after she came out of the bathroom, Cosby was reportedly lying in bed with his clothes off. Leslie alleges that Cosby took her hand and had her fondle him while he was in bed.

Carla Ferrigno, who is married to the actor Lou Ferrigno, has come forward and said that she experienced an unwanted sexual advance from Cosby at a party in 1967 when she was just a teenager. She was reportedly working as a Playboy bunny in Los Angeles when she was invited to Cosby’s house. At one point in the evening, Ferrigno was alone with Cosby playing pool, she said. He then forcefully grabbed her and kissed her, she claimed.She said: “I had never been treated so roughly and he pulled me hard to him so hard. And then kissed me so hard, right in the mouth. No one has ever been that physically violent with me. I was stunned. I was frozen. I took all my body strength and used both of my arms to stop him and push him away from me. He was so forceful.”

Kristina Ruehli, a 71-year-old New Hampshire woman who says she was one of the unnamed witnesses in the Constand suit, told Philadelphia Magazine that Cosby drugged and tried to sexually assault her in 1965 when she was 22 years old. She said she met Cosby while she was working as a secretary at a talent agency in Beverly Hills. He reportedly invited her to a party at his home one night, but when she arrived, no one else was there. Cosby allegedly gave her two drinks, and after that everything became “foggy,” she claimed. She eventually wound up in one of the bedrooms in the house. Cosby then allegedly tried to force Ruehli to perform oral sex on him. She said she pushed him away, ran into a bathroom, and started throwing up. When she came out of the bathroom, Cosby was reportedly gone and she left his house.

Renita Chaney Hill, a 47-year-old Pittsburgh woman, told KDKA News that she had a four-year-long relationship with Cosby in the 1980s. She said she believes he drugged and likely raped her she would go visit him. She was 15 years old when she met him. Hill told KDKA Cosby would fly her to various cities and she would visit him at his hotel room at night. He would allegedly insist that she drink even though he knew she was underage. Hill claimed she would wake up the next day and not remember anything, despite not having that much to drink. She said that during one incident, right before she passed out, she remembers him kissing and touching her.

Linda Traitz, a 63-year-old woman who met Cosby in 1969 when she was waiting tables for a restaurant he co-owned in West Hollywood, came forward to accuse Cosby of sexual assault in an interview with The Washington Post. She said Cosby chatted her up one day at the restaurant and offered her a ride home. But instead of going home, Cosby drove to the beach and took out a briefcase that had “assorted sections in it, with pills and tablets in it, different colours arranged and assorted into compartments,” she told the Post. She said she told Cosby that she didn’t want any of the pills, but he reportedly kept insisting. He then allegedly lunged at her and grabbed her chest. When she ran out of the car and onto the beach, he allegedly pursued her and offered to take her home.

Victoria Valentino, a former Playboy bunny, told the Post that she met Cosby in 1970. Another Playboy bunny knew Cosby and introduced him to Valentino, who reportedly met him for dinner with a friend one night following their initial meeting. Cosby reportedly offered Valentino and her friend red pills at the end of dinner. She said she then began slurring her words and “couldn’t function.” Cosby then reportedly drove the pair to an apartment under the pretense of showing them memorabilia from his popular “I Spy” show. It was there that he allegedly assaulted Valentino. She said she never went to the police because “in those days, it was always the rape victim who wound up being victimized.”

This post has been updated as additional accusers have come forward. It was originally published in 2014.

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