-- More than 50 women have come forward, most of them within the past year, to accuse Bill Cosby of drugging and/or sexual misconduct, but the legendary actor and comedian had never been charged with a crime.
On Wednesday morning, Cosby was charged with drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004, when she was the director of operations for the women's basketball team at Temple University, Cosby's alma mater. He faces up to ten years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted.
The charge comes just a few weeks before the statute of limitations would have expired. When Constand first went to the police in 2005 with her accusations, Bruce Castor, the district attorney in Montgomery County (PA) at the time, decided not to press charges, explaining that the accuser and the TV star could be portrayed in "a less than flattering light."
This year, Castor said the allegations in Constand's lawsuit were more serious than the account she gave police, and if that information had been known at the time, "we might have been able to make a case."
At the time, Cosby denied any wrongdoing, except for making an apology to his wife, Camille, for being unfaithful.
Cosby, now 78, first met Constand more than a decade ago, when he was a prominent booster for Temple University. He and Constand struck up a friendly relationship and would have dinner at his home, during which Cosby would dispense career advice.
However, in mid-January 2005, Constand, who now lives in Toronto, went to the Canadian police, telling them that between mid-January and mid-February of 2004 Cosby had given her pills which made her dizzy and weak, and then sexually assaulted her in his Pennsylvania home. Canadian police then alerted Pennsylvania authorities. Cosby claimed to have given Constand Benadryl because she complained of tension and inability to sleep.
Two months later, Constand filed a civil suit in which she accused Cosby of battery, sexual assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, according to today’s criminal complaint.
Thirteen other women, including Beth Ferrier and Barbara Bowman, came forward to Constand's attorneys with similar allegations and offered to testify on her behalf. It never came to pass.
Cosby was deposed over the course of four days in September 2005 and March 2006, during which he admitted to giving Quaaludes to a woman with whom he wanted to have sex.
In the deposition, Cosby defended himself against Constand's allegations. “I don’t hear her say anything. And I don’t feel her say anything," he said. "And so I continue and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped."
On Nov. 8, 2006, the case was settled confidentially and sealed. Ferrier, Bowman and Tamara Green then took their stories to People magazine.
After that, years went by and the story was largely forgotten until 2014, when Hannibal Burress joked about it at a standup show in Cosby's hometown of Philadelphia. After that, dozens of women, including models Beverly Johnson and Janice Dickinson, came forward with their own allegations against Cosby. His attorneys issued denials when many of these allegations emerged.
He is currently facing defamation lawsuits, two of which he recently countered with his own civil suits. According to Constand's attorney, Dolores Troiani, Constand welcomes the new charges.
"She feels that they believe her, and, to any victim, that is foremost in your mind: Are people going to believe me," Troiani said, according to the Associated Press.