Bill Cosby: Timeline of his fall from 'America's Dad' to his release from prison

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania overturned his sentence.

June 30, 2021, 3:45 PM

Bill Cosby will be released from prison Wednesday after the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania overturned his 2018 sexual assault conviction.

Cosby had been sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand in 2004. Despite the deluge of allegations against him, Cosby has always maintained that he never engaged in non-consensual sex. Here's a look back at the more than decade-long saga that led to the downfall of the man known to many as "America's dad."

Mid-January to mid-February 2004 Andrea Constand says Cosby sexually assaulted her at his home in Cheltenham Township in Montgomery, Pennsylvania. Though now convicted, he maintains his innocence.

March 31, 2004 Constand leaves her position as director of operations for Temple University's women's basketball team and returns to her hometown in Canada.

May 17, 2004 Cosby's fiery speech about black America at an NAACP awards ceremony leads to a speaking tour dubbed "A Call Out With Bill Cosby" at college campuses and churches nationwide.

Jan. 13, 2005 After experiencing nightmares and a "flashback" that triggered her memory, Constand first tells her mother that Cosby assaulted her, according to court documents.

Jan. 22, 2005 Constand files a police report with the Durham Regional Police outside Toronto, sparking a criminal investigation by Montgomery County detectives in Cheltenham.

PHOTO: Bill Cosby arrives for his trial on sexual assault charges at the Montgomery County Courthouse, June 6, 2017, in Norristown, Pa.
Bill Cosby arrives for his trial on sexual assault charges at the Montgomery County Courthouse, June 6, 2017, in Norristown, Pa.
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez-Pool/Getty Images

January 2005 At his attorney's midtown Manhattan law office, Cosby is interviewed by Cheltenham Police Chief John Norris, who later tells Vanity Fair that Cosby was "cooperative, congenial ... He came in wearing the typical Cosby sweater. I was asking the question, and I thought [Cosby] was a gentleman. I didn't think he was evasive. He answered every question I put to him. He said it was a consensual sexual encounter. That summarizes it."

Feb. 10, 2005 Tamara Green says in a television interview that Constand's decision to file a police report against Cosby, sparking a very public criminal investigation, prompted her to come forward with a similar allegation from the 1970s.

Feb. 17, 2005 Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor Jr. issued a press release announcing his decision not to criminally prosecute Cosby.

March 2005 Constand files a civil lawsuit against Cosby. She includes depositions from 13 other women, who say they were sexually assaulted by Cosby over the years, and lists them as potential witnesses. Cosby later said in a deposition that his sexual encounter with Constand was consensual and that the only drug he gave her was Benadryl.

June 23, 2005 Beth Ferrier, known in court papers as Jane Doe No. 5, reveals her identity to The Philadelphia Daily News. She alleges that during the course of what she describes as a brief affair with Cosby in 1984 when she was modeling, he drugged her coffee and sexually assaulted her.

Fall 2005 to 2006: During four days of depositions by Constand's attorneys, Cosby testifies the following: He got drugs to give women for sex, he gave The National Enquirer interview in 2005 to stop Ferrier's previously undisclosed sexual assault allegation from surfacing, he hid the affairs from his wife, and he routed payments to multiple women.

June 6, 2006 In a radio interview with Howard Stern, model Janice Dickenson calls Cosby "a bad guy" who "preys on women."

PHOTO: Bill Cosby leaves the Montgomery County Courthouse during his sexual assault trial, June 15, 2017, in Norristown, Pa.
Bill Cosby leaves the Montgomery County Courthouse during his sexual assault trial, June 15, 2017, in Norristown, Pa.
Matt Slocum/AP Photo

June 9, 2006 Barbara Bowman is named in Philadelphia magazine as one of the women giving testimony in support of Constand's civil lawsuit against Cosby.

Nov. 8, 2006 Constand's civil lawsuit against Cosby is settled for more than $3 million.

Oct. 16, 2014 Comedian Hannibal Buress makes the joke heard around the world. Performing in Cosby's hometown of Philadelphia, he mocks Cosby's public persona. "Pull your pants up, black people -- I was on TV in the '80s," Buress said in the bit. "Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches."

Nov. 10, 2014 Nearly a month after the Buress routine goes viral, prompting fresh accusations, Cosby's public relations team begins a concerted effort to counter the mountain of negative press and social media censure pinballing through cyberspace and launches an online meme generator. In an effort to creatively engage fans online, Cosby posts an invitation on Twitter, writing, "Meme me." Twitter responds with references to the rape claims.

Nov. 13, 2014 Bowman, who first publicly accused Cosby of sexual assault in 2006 and was a witness in Constand's lawsuit, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post titled "Bill Cosby raped me. Why did it take 30 years for people to believe my story?" Two days later, when asked about the charges on NPR's "Weekend Edition," Cosby stays silent.

Nov. 16, 2014 A new accuser, Joan Tarshis, told CNN that Cosby drugged and assaulted her on two occasions in 1969.

Nov. 17, 2014 Linda Joy Traitz, a former waitress at a restaurant owned in part by Cosby, wrote a long Facebook post accusing him of trying to drug her in the early '70s.

Nov. 18, 2014 Janice Dickinson told "Entertainment Tonight" that he drugged and raped her in 1982.

Nov. 20, 2014 Theresa Serignese comes forward as the seventh woman to accuse Cosby of sexual assault, saying that he drugged and assaulted her in 1976. His attorneys dismiss Serignese's and others' accusations as "decades old, discredited" accounts.

Nov. 21, 2014 More women come forward, including Carla Ferrigno, wife and manager of "Incredible Hulk" actor Lou Ferrigno, who says Cosby "attacked" her when she was a teenager. Serignese, a nurse, tells ABC's "20/20" that Cosby drugged and raped her in 1976 when she was 19.

Nov. 23, 2014 Former NBC employee Frank Scotti tells The New York Daily News that he paid off eight women on Cosby's behalf, sending thousands of dollars in money orders to the women to keep them quiet.

Nov. 26, 2014 Cosby resigns as honorary co-chair of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst's capital campaign.

Nov. 30, 2014 In a first-person essay for Vanity Fair, model Beverly Johnson accuses Cosby of drugging her in the mid-1980s but says she doesn't believe she was raped. She later tells ABC News, "I knew that I was in danger. I knew that this was not a recreational drug of any kind ... I was really afraid. I was afraid for my life."

Dec. 1, 2014 Cosby resigns from Temple University's board of trustees.

Dec. 3, 2014 Cosby breaks his silence on Twitter to thank Whoopi Goldberg and singer Jill Scott for their support. Both women have since publicly backed off from their support.

Dec. 2, 2014 Judy Huth files a civil lawsuit against Cosby, alleging that he forced her to perform a sex act in 1974 at the Playboy Mansion when she was 15. He fires back with a lawsuit, saying she is lying and trying to extort him.

Dec. 13, 2014 Cosby tells New York Post reporter Stacy Brown that he expects "the black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism" and stay neutral. He also says his wife, Camille Cosby, is standing by him.

Dec. 15, 2014 Camille Cosby speaks out for the first time. "The man I met and fell in love with and whom I continue to love is the man you all knew through his work," she says in a statement. "A different man has been portrayed in the media over the last two months. It is the portrait of a man I do not know."

Dec. 16, 2014 The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office declines to charge Bill Cosby in response to the Huth allegations, citing the statute of limitations. Cosby's daughter Evin Cosby gives a statement to "Access Hollywood," writing, "He is the FATHER you thought you knew. 'The Cosby Show' was my today's TV reality show. Thank you. That's all I would like to say :)"

Jan. 7, 2015 Phylicia Rashad, 66, who played Claire Huxtable, the wife of Cosby's character on "The Cosby Show," clarifies remarks she made defending her former co-star. She says that in all the years she worked with Cosby, she never saw any of the behavior described by dozens of women. In an interview with ABC News, she says, "What you're seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it's orchestrated. I don't know why or who's doing it, but it's the legacy. And it's a legacy that is so important to the culture."

Jan. 7, 2015 At a press conference lawyer Gloria Allred introduces three new Cosby accusers, including "prior alleged victim six," known then only as "Kacey," who is later revealed to be Kelly Johnson.

March 10, 2015 Model Jennifer Thompson tells the AP that Cosby pursued her aggressively and once gave her $700 after she performed a sex act on him. Former Cosby attorney Marty Singer does not immediately respond to Thompson's claims but calls the flood of similar allegations "unsubstantiated."

March 13, 2015 Former model Lise-Lotte Lublin asks Nevada legislators to rescind the state's statute of limitations on sexual assault, saying she suspects Cosby drugged her drink in a Las Vegas hotel in 1989. Through his attorneys, Cosby has always denied all accusations of wrongdoing.

May 15, 2015 In an exclusive interview with ABC News' Linsey Davis, Cosby responds to critics who call him a hypocrite for moralizing about black America while facing sexual assault allegations.

July 6, 2015 Court documents from Constand's 2005 lawsuit are released, in which Cosby admitted to giving a woman Quaaludes. Cosby said he obtained the drugs with the idea that he would give them to a woman with whom he wanted to have sex. The release follows a court battle in which Constand filed a motion to have the deposition unsealed because Cosby violated a nondisclosure agreement by responding to the newly surfaced allegations.

July 26, 2015 Spelman College, a historically black school, discontinues its endowed professorship named after Cosby and returns the remaining funds to him and his wife, who donated $20 million to college.

July 27, 2015 New York magazine photographs 35 of Cosby's accusers for a stunning cover story, in which they tell their stories of the alleged assaults and their decisions to come forward.

Sept. 24, 2015 Marquette and Fordham universities revoke Cosby's honorary degrees.

Oct. 6, 2015 Chloe Goins, a 25-year-old Las Vegas model and one of the youngest women to come forward, files a lawsuit against Cosby, claiming he drugged and assaulted her in 2008 when she was a teenager.

Oct. 9, 2015 Allred deposes Cosby under oath in Huth's civil lawsuit.

Oct. 15, 2015 Tufts University and Goucher College strip Cosby of his honorary degrees. Days later, Amherst College rescinds Cosby's honorary doctorate — the first time in the school's history.

Oct. 21, 2015 Cosby fires his longtime lawyer Singer, one of his most vocal defenders in the press.

Nov. 4, 2015 Kevin Steele beats Bruce Castor Jr. after a bitter race for Montgomery County district attorney.

Dec. 14, 2015 Cosby files a defamation countersuit against seven women who accused him of sexual misconduct.

Dec. 21, 2015 Cosby files a defamation lawsuit against Beverly Johnson. His lawyer says in a statement, "He never drugged the defendant, and her story is a lie." Cosby seeks compensatory and punitive damages, a retraction of her statements and the removal from her memoir of the chapter in which the allegations are mentioned.

Dec. 30, 2015 More than 50 women have come forward, most of them within the past 13 months, but the legendary actor and comedian had never been charged with a crime — until now. Two weeks before time would have run out under the statute of limitations, Cosby is charged with drugging and sexually assaulting Constand in 2004. He does not enter a plea at his arraignment and is free on $1 million bail.

Dec. 31, 2015 Cosby tweets, "Thank You," to friends and family.

Feb. 2, 2016 Castor testifies that he didn't file charges in 2005 in the Cosby case because he didn't think the Constand allegations would stand up in court.

Feb. 3, 2016 Judge Steven T. O'Neill, a judge on the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, rules that the Cosby case may go forward and declines to remove Steele from the case, despite the Cosby team's objections.

Feb. 22, 2016 Camille Cosby gives 2.5 hours of testimony in a deposition with lawyers for seven women suing Cosby for defamation.

Feb. 25, 2016 Cosby drops his lawsuit against Beverly Johnson.

May 24, 2016 Cosby is ordered to stand trial in the sexual assault case by Montgomery County Magisterial District Court Judge Elizabeth McHugh. He waives a formal arraignment and thus enters a plea of not guilty. The case is assigned to O'Neill.

June 8, 2016 Cosby again seeks to have the indecent sexual assault charge dismissed. "The district attorney's win-at-all-costs tactics in this matter are stretching the rules past the breaking point," the motion states. The motion is denied.

July 18, 2016 Cosby is now completely blind, a source close to him tells Page Six. He has suffered from a degenerative eye condition called keratoconus, which causes the cornea to bulge.

Sept. 9, 2016 For the first time in the Constand case, Cosby's lawyers claim racism, the AP reports. "Mr. Cosby is no stranger to discrimination and racial hatred," they say in a statement. "When the media repeats her accusations — with no evidence, no trial and no jury — we are moved backwards as a country and away from the America that our civil rights leaders sacrificed so much to create."

Feb. 24, 2017 O'Neill allows one additional accuser — now known to be Johnson — to testify in the upcoming trial.

Feb 27, 2017 O'Neill agrees to a request by an attorney for Cosby to bring in a jury from outside Montgomery County for the criminal trial.

April 26, 2017 Evin Cosby issues a statement defending her father. "I know that my father loves me, loves my sisters and my mother," she said. "He loves and respects women. He is not abusive, violent or a rapist."

May 16, 2017 In his first interview in two years, with Sirius XM radio, Cosby says he won't take the stand and reiterates the claim that racism may be partly responsible for the dozens of sexual assault allegations against him. Social media users react swiftly to Cosby's comments tying race to the sexual assault allegations.

May 25, 2017 Jury selection ends two days after it began. The jury, which was selected from Allegheny County residents, consists of seven men and five women.

June 5, 2017 Cosby's criminal trial begins. He arrives in court arm in arm with his former "Cosby Show" co-star Keshia Knight Pulliam.

June 17, 2017 The criminal case against Cosby ends in a mistrial. After six days of deliberation, the seven man, five woman jury was unable to render a unanimous verdict on any of the three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault with which Cosby had been charged. Prosecutor Kevin R. Steele, the Montgomery County District Attorney who filed the charges, announces shortly after the mistrial that his office would retry the case.

June 21, 2017 One of the twelve jurors tells ABC News in an exclusive interview after the mistrial was declared that tensions inside the jury room had reached a fever pitch during the long days of deliberations.

Aug. 1, 2017 Brian McMonagle, Cosby’s lead defense attorney in his first trial, files a motion with the court to withdraw as defense counsel.

Aug. 15, 2017 Angela Agrusa becomes the second of Cosby’s defense counsel to withdraw from the case. Neither McMonagle nor Agrusa have publicly explained their reasons for leaving the case before the retrial, and Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt has declined to comment on the change of counsel.

Aug. 21, 2017 In a tweet Cosby introduces his new legal team: Los Angeles celebrity trial attorney Thomas Mesereau, who successfully defended Michael Jackson against child molestation charges in 2005; Kathleen Bliss, who spent 22 years as a federal prosecutor in Oklahoma, Washington D.C, New Mexico and Nevada; and Samuel Silver, a Philadelphia attorney.

Aug. 23, 2017 Silver files a motion to join Cosby’s legal team, fulfilling a state requirement that at least one of the members of the defense team be certified to practice law in Pennsylvania.

Jan. 10, 2018 With a phalanx of reporters, cameramen and publicists in tow, Cosby dines out in a largely empty Italian restaurant in Germantown, Pennsylvania called Ristorante La Veranda, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Asked how he’s feeling about his upcoming retrial on sexual assault charges, Cosby tells reporters, “We’re ready.”

Jan. 26, 2018 Cosby’s attorneys file an explosive motion seeking to have his case dismissed, accusing prosecutors of withholding and destroying evidence that could have helped the comedian at trial. They claim in court papers that prosecutors had only recently made them aware of an interview that prosecution investigators conducted with a woman named Marguerite Jackson -- who defense attorneys claimed in a court filing would say that Constand told her she “had not been sexually assaulted, but she could say that she had, file charges and get money” -- and then destroyed their notes from the interview. In fact, it was later determined, former defense attorney Brian McMonagle was aware of the interview prior to the original trial last year. Hours after the filing, Cosby’s Pennsylvania attorney Sam Silver files a motion to withdraw from the case.

Feb. 1, 2018 Lane Vines, a Pennsylvania securities and investment fraud attorney, files a motion to replace Sam Silver as Cosby’s local counsel.

Feb. 1, 2018 For the first time in a century, the University of Pennsylvania revokes honorary degrees it bestowed on Cosby and Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn, who has also been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple parties, according to a statement released by the school, reported in the school's newspaper. When sexual assault allegations first resurfaced in 2015, the school said it would not revoke the degree.

Feb. 5, 2018 In a blistering response to the defense motion alleging prosecutorial misconduct and the destruction of evidence, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele called the allegations “demonstrably false” and complained that “the facts and the truth were easily ascertainable; defendant and his lawyers just did not care to find them.” Steele asserts that prosecutors contacted Cosby’s own former attorney, Brian McMonagle, who told them that he was, in fact, aware of the interview prior to the first trial.

The same day, defense attorneys acknowledged that they had wrongly accused Steele of prosecutorial misconduct and amended their motion to dismiss. In the amended filing, defense attorneys continued to assert that while investigators do not recall taking notes during the Jackson interview, Jackson claims they did. Cosby’s attorneys were seeking an evidentiary hearing to investigate the prosecution team’s conduct, writing that “the defense should be able to explore the Montgomery County Detectives Bureau’s policy on note-taking, memoranda of interviews and destruction of notes.”

Feb. 7, 2018 In a statement to Fox News, Yale University said it has never rescinded an honorary degree and has no plans to revoke the degree it awarded Cosby in 2003, citing a “longstanding practice” of never doing so.

Feb. 19, 2018 Johns Hopkins University, which awarded Cosby an honorary degree in 2004, declined to rescind the degree in a statement to the Johns Hopkins Newsletter, according to the Daily Pennsylvanian.

April 2, 2018 Cosby's second trial begins. He's charged with drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his suburban Pennsylvania home during a visit she made there in 2004. Cosby has denied the charge and says any sexual encounters with the former Temple University women's basketball administrator were consensual. Judge Steven T. O’Neill -- the same judge from the first trial -- allowed five additional women who accused Cosby of drugging and molesting them to take the stand as prosecution witnesses to corroborate Constand’s account.

April 9, 2018 For first time ever, the prosecution publicly said the 80-year-old Cosby paid his primary accuser $3.38 million in exchange for her silence about him allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting her.

April 24, 2018 In a scorched-earth defense strategy, Cosby’s attorneys banked on a backlash to the growing #MeToo movement, describing it during their closing arguments as a mob mentality “primarily based on emotion and anger” and comparing the prosecution of the comedian to lynching, witch hunts, and McCarthyism. But prosecutors countered, calling the 80-year-old Cosby a "con artist," a term defense attorneys have used to describe the comedian's main accuser, Constand.

April 25, 2018 The jury begins their deliberation.

April 26, 2018 Cosby was convicted on three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault in the case involving Constand and two others. Steele said he will move to get Cosby, a multimillionaire, to pay for not only the cost of this trial but the previous one as well. He noted that lead defense attorney Tom Mesereau said in his opening argument that the $3.38 million Cosby paid in 2006 to settle a sexual assault lawsuit filed against him by Constand was a "paltry sum."

April 30, 2018 One of the male jurors spoke to "Good Morning America," saying that he was convinced of Cosby's guilt because of the comedian's own words. "It was his deposition, really," Harrison Snyder, 22, said of what ultimately made him come to the conclusion Cosby was guilty. "Mr. Cosby admitted to giving these Quaaludes to women, young women, in order to have sex with them."

May 3, 2018 Cosby's wife Camille spoke out after the verdict, saying that she believes "an innocent person has been found guilty based on an unthinking, unquestioning, unconstitutional frenzy propagated by the media and allowed to play out in a supposed court of law. This is mob justice, not real justice."

At one point in her statement, Camille Cosby said that her husband's "unproven accusations evolved into lynch mobs."

"Since when are all accusers truthful? History disproves that," she said before comparing Bill Cosby's trial to Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy who was lynched in 1955 after a white woman falsely accused him of flirting.

That same day, Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski, who has also been accused of sexual misconduct, were expelled from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

June 15, 2018 Cosby fired all seven attorneys on his legal team just months ahead of his September sentencing, replacing them with a single Pennsylvania criminal-defense lawyer. Cosby, who's on house arrest, hired attorney Joseph P. Green Jr. to represent him going forward, according to the former comedian's spokesman Andrew Wyatt.

Sept. 17. 2018 Camille Cosby went to the Pennsylvania capital in Harrisburg to file a complaint with the state's Judicial Conduct Board about the judge in her husband's case, calling O'Neill "arrogant," "corrupt" and "unethical," according to the Associated Press.

Sept. 24, 2018 Cosby's sentencing hearing began. In a two-minute victim-impact statement, Constand told O'Neill that she wants "justice as the court sees fit."

Sept. 25, 2018 The judge sentenced Cosby to three to 10 years in state prison after the octogenarian was designated a "sexually violent predator." O'Neill sentenced Cosby in a Norristown, Pennsylvania, courtroom, and then denied bail during pending appeals, capping a two-day hearing attended by about a dozen women who accused Cosby of sexual assault, including Constand, whom he was convicted of assaulting. O'Neill ordered Cosby to serve the sentence in "total confinement" for "no less than three years and no more than 10 years."

June 25, 2019 Cosby claims in a new appeal to his Pennsylvania sex assault conviction that the trial judge was wrong to allow five additional accusers to testify at trial that they were drugged and sexually assaulted by Cosby, among other appellate issues raised in the lengthy memo. The appeal further argues that the trial judge erred in allowing Cosby’s prior deposition testimony about using Quaaludes during consensual sexual encounters with women in the 1970s to be read aloud at trial, and claim he should have recused himself from overseeing the trial due to an alleged dispute with a pre-trial witness.

Aug. 12, 2019 During oral arguments before an appeals panel of Pennsylvania Superior Court judges, a seemingly-skeptical panel of state Superior Court appellate judges peppered Cosby's attorneys repeatedly with challenges to the defense team's arguments, while barely interrupting two state prosecutors during their presentation, during a roughly hour-long hearing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The Superior Court panel’s ruling on Cosby’s appeal will be issued in writing at an unspecified future date. The appellate panel's decision can be appealed to the state's Supreme Court, but that court could choose not to hear the panel, ending the process.

Dec. 10, 2019 A panel of three appellate judges unanimously rejected Cosby’s appeal, and his lawyers vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. One month later, they officially filed that paperwork, claiming that the Superior Court had made errors in judgment.

June 23, 2020 The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania agreed to hear two points in Cosby's appeal.

Dec. 1, 2020 Attorneys virtually argued their cases before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, with Cosby's lawyer, Jennifer Bojean, claiming that her client "suffered unquantifiable prejudice, where the prior bad-act evidence overwhelmed his second trial." At the time, several justices seemed to agree, questioning whether the testimony of the secondary accusers created a distraction. "You can still get to the point, with evidence that is terribly probative, that it's just too much, and the defendant did not have a fair trial," Justice Max Baer said. However, Assistant Montgomery County District Attorney Adrienne Jappe noted the group of prior bad-act witnesses was reduced to five from 19. "Without this evidence the commonwealth would have had to largely rely on the uncorroborated testimony of Andrea Constand regarding the lack of consent," Jappe said.

The justices appeared to be less moved by the defense's argument that Cosby never should have been tried in the first place due to a non-prosecution deal -- never put in writing -- with a previous district attorney that prompted the comedian to sit for a deposition in a civil lawsuit. In that deposition, Cosby testified about sexual encounters with women to whom he had offered Quaaludes.

"I'm struggling with your argument," Justice Kevin Dougherty said, noting that Cosby is an "intellectually superior" person who should have known about self-incrimination.

June 30, 2021 The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania overturned Cosby's conviction, finding that the comedian should not have been charged or sentenced due to his agreement with a prosecutor. He was released from State Correctional Institution Phoenix in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, that afternoon.

ABC News' Lesley Messer and Aaron Katersky contributed to this report.

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